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Tempest in a teachpot 

Have you listened to Frank Zappa lately? Holy crap was that guy fantastic. I really believe our consciousness is just now catching up to what that guy was capable off. I'll bet there's a page on the Mayan calendar that's nothing but the lyrics to Joe's Garage.

Not feeling it? Be patient with me, because you only get one chance in life to write a column that goes like this.

Anyway, thanks to my minion who sent me the update on the growing fight going on between Cuesta College's faculty union president, Marilyn Rossa, and Cuesta's executive director of human resources, Annette Loria. It's about, wait for it, labor relations.

In case you haven't been playing along, Cuesta has churned through most of its deans--as well as its president--since voters rejected its $310 million bond attempt in ought-six, so the school has been operating for months with interim leaders. All those vacancies recently led to a warning letter from an accreditation committee.

A new president, Dave Pelham, is set to show up next month. He's a guy from the College of the Siskiyous, which is based in the awesomely named Northern California town of Weed. I hope but doubt that his city of origin says something about him. Suggested motto: Pass the pipe, then pass the bond.

Rossa has earned herself a reputation as a firebreather, which isn't a bad thing for a union head. But her latest Grendel impression has been over the seemingly arcane question of which forms are used to evaluate faculty. Somebody tried to explain why this is a big deal--something about how there weren't any deans around to approve it and now everybody's evaluations are all screwed up--but it still sounded pretty stupid to me.

Still, Rossa is really worked up over it and some other matters, and she blames the mess on Loria, so she's taking things nuclear.

According to e-mails dropped my way, Rossa is threatening to run ads in The Tribune asking that Loria be fired. She's also talking about circulating petitions around campus calling for Loria's head and is backing up the whole deal with a threat that if Loria isn't fired, the union will withhold its support for any future bond issue. Blackmail 101. It's three credits.

I can't figure out how fighting against a bond issue for their own school purely for the sake of revenge will help the faculty, but then again, I got expelled from Cuesta after I got caught with an ounce of Siskiyous in Lot 3.

And speaking of schools, Cal Poly has been getting attention for another issue.

To understand this, you have to consider that Cal Poly doesn't have much to boast about by way of diversity, but it has been proud of training women engineers in a field dominated by men.

Fast forward to now. Basically, Cal Poly, under College of Engineering Dean Mohammad Noori, has been working to develop an engineering program with Jubail University College in Saudi Arabia.

Like the formula that keeps those guys' beards so dark, it would be just for men, and you can bet there's no campus synagogue.

The college is reportedly getting about $6 million for the effort, and Noori, that lucky dog, got a paid junket to the attractively named Jubail Industrial City last year to get it all rolling.

The issue was first brought to light in the Mustang Daily months ago, but it's continued to gain media traction, most recently in an L.A. Times story.

With women and Jews on the engineering faculty, the idea isn't sitting well, but so far the college hasn't backed off. Wait for it.

I seem to be on a school kick, so I'll throw this in also: I just got hold of a flier from . Seems that March 3 through 7 is "National School Breakfast Week," billed as "a time to remember the importance of eating breakfast."

The flier says skipping breakfast can lead to obesity, so schools are providing breakfast during morning recess. Sound like a good idea? Here's what's on the menu:

Monday: Choice of pancake-sausage stick or whole wheat pop tart.

Tuesday: Breakfast burrito.

Wednesday: Pepperoni pizza "stix." (Can't they agree on a spelling?)

Thursday: Pizza bagel.

Friday: Breakfast sandwich or "bageler."

I don't know what "bageler" is, but I suspect it's a euphemism for a grade-school angioplasty. If this is legit, and it turns out you can battle obesity by eating pizza, pop tarts, sausage "stix," and burritos, then I think somebody's got the makings of a new diet bestseller on their hands.

I don't blame the local school district. I'm sure the menu was mandated under the federal Leave No Child's Behind Unjiggly Act.

Just one final note. I know Hamish Marshall has been making a big push this week to get things set for his imaginatively funded, parking-lot eating Garden Street Terraces project, the 74-foot downtown SLO project that seems determined to make the name of neighboring Big Sky restaurant ironic. He had a neighborhood get-together this week at the convenient time of 7:30 a.m. and has hired the press handlers to round up the slobs for another event on the day this publication goes to press. But what I can't figure out is why those events are being held at the neighboring Mother's Tavern, owned by City Councilman Paul Brown. Maybe you can help me figure that out.

If you don't remember anything from this column, though, remember this: Go listen to Zappa. Your inner Mayan will thank you.

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