“Arrest Napolitano! Janet Must Go!”

University of California protesters speak the truth to power.

Dozens of University of California students and workers peacefully assembled at a recent UC regents meeting in San Francisco, but it wasn’t to protest Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, Ann Coulter or even Donald Trump.  The target was Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California.  

“Arrest Napolitano! Arrest Napolitano!”  and “Janet Must Go!” were the rallying cries, and along with their placards the protesters brought along some facts.

While beating the drum for tuition and fee hikes, president Napolitano has amassed a secret slush fund of $175 million, which she used to shower perks on already overpaid staff and even to renovate the houses of UC chancellors. That’s why the protesters wanted her arrested. The state auditor reported that Napolitano’s office “intentionally interfered” with their investigators, which could be construed as an obstruction of justice.

“Shame on you Janet Napolitano,” said UC Santa Barbara graduate student Hannah Kagan-Moore during the public comment. “Shame on the office of the president for padding your own pockets!” Other students called the regents “hypocrites” and “greedy,” but the regents weren’t having it.

Regents chair Monica Lozano, formerly of U.S. Hispanic Media, talked of “changing the culture” but was uncritical of Napolitano. “There has been no criminal activity and no slush funds,” responded regent Sherry Lansing. The former movie executive blasted “distortions” in the media, hailed Napolitano’s “wisdom and integrity,” and proclaimed, “her leadership has been incredible.”

Regent Bonnie Reiss, an attorney who produced president Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration ceremony, complained of “salacious” newspaper headlines. “Seeing how some in the press have characterized it as a slush fund or a secret fund hurt my heart,” Reiss lamented.

UC regent Norm Pattiz was “delighted when I found out we had a chance to have Janet Napolitano as our president.”  Pattiz was “still delighted” after the audit, but protesting students might have wondered why he was still a University of California regent.

Last year, during a commercial for a memory-foam bra, Pattiz asked television writer Heather McDonald, “Wait a minute — can I hold your breasts?” and referred to his hands as “memory foam.” In another audio clip Pattiz offered critiques of pornographic films and that got the attention of the student press.

“If you want a porn connoisseur making decisions about our school’s academic, administrative and yes, sexual harassment policies, then by all means, Pattiz should remain a regent,” editorialized the Daily Bruin. “But if he has any remaining respect for himself and the institution he works for, he must resign.”

It didn’t happen. The eager Pattiz with the memory-foam hands is still a UC regent and “still delighted” with president Janet Napolitano.

In similar style, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, also a UC regent, criticized the audit as too strict and opined that president Janet Napolitano was doing a good job. Media sycophants also had the president’s back. 

“Nothing in her long career or her UC performance indicates that she’s dishonest or incompetent,” wrote Shawn Hubler of the Sacramento Bee. Napolitano’s critics need to “dial down the hostility, give some benefit of the doubt and remember the bigger picture. Like the UC system itself, a UC president of her stature is something to value and it would be too bad if California failed to appreciate that.”

That was a stark contrast to the response from legislators. Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, a Torrance Democrat, said he was “very disturbed” that Napolitano’s office had interfered with the auditors, and several Democrats announced plans for a bill to make such interference a crime.

“President Napolitano is not worthy of the public’s trust,” explained Democratic assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. “It’s time she resigned.” Other legislators were curious whether Napolitano had already committed crimes and should be subpoenaed.

Attorney general Xavier Becerra, currently occupied with the protection of illegal foreign nationals, did not weigh in on the subject. Governor Jerry Brown threatened to withhold money but did not criticize Napolitano directly, nor call for her to step down. As it happens, the $175 million slush fund was not the UC president’s first caper against California students.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, Napolitano lowered admission requirements for out-of-state applicants “while denying admission to nearly 4,300 qualified Californians — using out-of-state students’ higher tuition rates to avoid any belt-tightening during the state’s revenue recession.” The UC regents responded by attacking state auditor Elaine Howle’s report on this practice and defending Napolitano. The regents now ignore the $175 million slush fund, the obstruction of auditors, and hail the UC boss as an incredible leader.

Janet Napolitano got her start spearheading the smear campaign against the African American Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. The former Arizona governor and Department of Homeland Security chief is a non-educator and has never produced anything of scholarly interest. The prominent Democrat was a purely political hire and with Donald Trump in the White House she serves, in effect, as California’s very own female president. Napolitarian rule quashes free speech, shirks accountability, and shows utter contempt for the rights and welfare of students.

The UC boss is looking out for number one, as the late Frank Zappa would say, and students, workers and taxpayers aren’t even number two. So the protesters have good reason to cry “Arrest Napolitano!” and “Janet must go!” This time they are speaking the truth to power.