Napolitano returns West: exits Homeland Security for the CA UC system

Napolitano’s politics and ideology fit the goals for the UC educational system Photo: AP Photo

LOS ANGELES, July 12, 2013—Today’s news bomb is the resignation of Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano.

The timing of Napolitano’s exit could not be more inconvenient for the Obama administration, as the “urgent” Senate-passed immigration bill is on life support in the House because of its weak emphasis on border security, the NSA is still looking shabby after the Snowden debacle, and Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev goes to trial.


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Each of these occurrences revealed gaping holes in our national security that happened on Napolitano’s watch. She is essentially leaving her successor and her former HS team holding the bag.

Napolitano is moving on to greener pastures in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, she will become President of the University of California system, the once-prestigious 10-campus body of higher learning. A non-scientific “Trending Now” poll on the L.A. Times website asked the question, Is Janet Napolitano a good choice to head the UC system? Seventy-seven percent said “No”, 23 percent said “Yes.” This reflects a real lack of confidence in her leadership, but when did that ever stop bureaucrats from installing who they want in a position?

Napolitano will be the first woman president in the 145-year history of the UC system; so the chance to “make history” was not absent in the decision-making process. If you doubt this, note that Sherry Lansing, UC regent and one of the “female firsts” in the entertainment industry headed the search committee.

Napolitano has little academic experience (unlike Condoleezza Rice); she is basically a political animal being tapped for her deep government connections. Per the L.A. Times, “UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences –- which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas.”


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Shorter interpretation: they need someone who has the gravitas and experience to keep the wheels of government funding greased.

But most telling is Napolitano’s stance on undocumented immigrants. She has played fast and loose with enforcement of the border since taking office in 2009. She was basically noncommittal on the border security provisions housed in the Senate immigration bill, claiming back in March that the border is secure, despite any measurable proof to back it up. Violence and murder continues to plague the border states. Pinal County, Arizona, the state where Napolitano was both attorney general and governor, still suffers from escalated violence.

There are few more worthy candidates to assist in implementing the California Dream Act, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011. This set of laws allows California students who are undocumented immigrants to receive financial aid and other benefits that previously required proof of legal residency.

The California legislature and Gov. Brown made this move despite the fact that the UC system has been financially imploding for quite some time. Outgoing president Mark Yudoff had to deal with $860 million in funding cuts from the state legislature while overseeing roughly a doubling in student tuition to help make up the difference since taking over in 2008. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Yudoff said $150 million of the cuts have recently been restored, but that state revenue probably wouldn’t return to pre-2008 levels for another five to six years. Now costs are being offset by existing (mostly legal) students who must suffer higher fees, and freezes on available classes.


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So this marriage of politics and ideology with educational direction and oversight is no accident. California remains the poster child of amnesty and welfare. With Napolitano over the state’s educational system, you can guarantee this will continue.


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Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell is the "In My Orbit" columnist for Washington Times Communities, writes on Los Angeles Faith and Community for Examiner.com, teaches Yoga, and coaches on careers and reinvention.

You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website: (http://asthegirlturns.com).

Contact Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

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