The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 February 2005

Larry Summers's Loudest Critic in Sleazy UC Pay Package Scandal


UCSC Chancellor Denton Has Her Own Baggage

*** June 25, 2006 Note: the Radio Equalizer is sorry to hear of Chancellor Denton's passing, after a suicide plunge from a San Francisco highrise. Please check our main page for the latest. A March 2005 update is found here.***

Do you know the difference between ideological debate and scandal?

Apparently, campus liberals don't. They've been busy skewering Harvard University President Larry Summers for more than five weeks over a warped misinterpretation of comments he made on gender and science at an economics conference.

Rather than wait for the facts to emerge in transcript form, fringe campus feminists and other PC faculty members went on an emotional rampage, complaining of physical illness and demanding Summers be fired.

One of his loudest detractors, Denice Dee Denton (often also written as "Denise"), is the incoming chancellor at University of California-Santa Cruz. This is a tale of two university heads, one politically correct and the other not.

Denton, an outspoken lesbian feminist lured away from Seattle's scandal-plagued University of Washington, has good reason to want attention focused on Summers: her new sweetheart UC employment contract reeks of nepotism and special rights. Those screaming about Summers have nothing to say about the sleaze surrounding Denton.

I'm not terribly surprised, as a graduate of UCSC's Cowell College and having been raised in Santa Cruz as well. Radical movements there began to degenerate into this type of corruption years ago. It's merely getting bolder, more overt and expensive for taxpayers. UCSC has long been a fringe-left hotbed of extremism.

How the two intertwined and parallel stories have played out so far speaks volumes about what really matters to the left and media.

Summers spoke January 14 and the transcript published February 18 in the Boston Globe shows he never used the term "innate ability" to describe roadblocks for women in science and engineering, as feminists contend.

Instead, Summers used a variety of softer terms that pointed to parental, cultural and physical differences which might account for distinct interest levels and achievements between genders. It was intended to reflect the research of Steven Pinker as a basis for dialogue.

The point was to get a provocative discussion underway, not to strongly assert a particular viewpoint. Where Summers miscalculated is in believing Harvard faculty members are interested in debate. Arrogance long ago superseded such trivial concerns.

What sparked Denton's involvement? Simple- she was in the audience and took Summers to task. Fine, that's what he wanted, but if she was in fact there, didn't she know he didn't actually say women lacked an innate ability to excel in these fields? Instead of shedding light on the truth, Denton helped fuel the misplaced fire.

On January 21, an
AP story with substantial contributions from the Santa Cruz Sentinel's Jondi Gumz appeared, detailing Denton's sleazy pay package, that included a $275,000 annual salary plus $68,000 for moving expenses from Seattle (less than 1000 miles from Santa Cruz). One joke circulating in Santa Cruz was that perhaps they were going to scoop up her Seattle home and place it on a barge bound for Monterey Bay.

What made the Sentinel report explosive was the revelation that Denton's longtime partner Gretchen Kalonji was
also hired by the UC system as part of the former's employment offer, in the same closed session meeting. Kalonji, supposedly an expert on international education, accepted a $192,000 per year deal with-- are you sitting down-- a $50,000 moving allowance of her own.

Wait a second-- weren't these two longtime partners from the same Seattle household? Why two enormous moving allowances?

Denton, Kalonji and eccentric former UCSC Chancellor M R C Greenwood, dismissed criticism leveled at the two with a variety of excuses mostly pointing to their supposed experience and qualifications. Kalonji claimed she needed some of the moving money to set up a home base near her office in Oakland, two hours from Santa Cruz. Nepotism? That doesn't apply here.

The hypocrisy is obvious: lesbians want their partnerships recognized, including as "marriages" but then turn around and dismiss obvious nepotism allegations?

All of the benefits but none of the unpleasant responsibilities, how convenient is that?

This is what conservatives mean when they maintain gays and lesbians want special, not equal, rights at home and work. Here's the evidence to show that pesky liberal next time you're challenged on what "special rights" means.

Most telling is what has occurred since. While Summers has faced a growing firestorm so hot that even the liberal Boston Globe felt the need to cool it down a bit with an editorial, Denton saw her story blow over, once UCSC's PR department took over media management.

But Gumz did write a January 30 follow-up for the Sentinel that properly explored more of the criticisms concerning Denton and Kalonji.

Interestingly, this abuse of public funds was so bad that even UC public employee unions objected, as did longtime socialist Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin, also a UCSC faculty member. Not even that could put the brakes on this rotten deal.

In Cambridge, liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz backed Summers, telling the Boston Globe that "professors who are afraid to challenge him are guilty of cowardice."

Now, the Globe's coverage has shifted to speculation about whether Summers can survive as university president, while at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the university reporting beat reverts back to rewrites of mundane campus press releases.

Remember, in the warped world of campus liberalism, lesbian nepotism is okay, but not open debate of controversial positions on academic research.


  • Well done, Brian! You nailed not only a scandal but a superb example of hypocrisy in one crisp commentary.

    John Carlson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 February, 2005 13:39  

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