Friday, December 21, 2007

Requiem for a Murdered Dream

Tucson, Arizona. The Southern Arizona Institute of Advanced Training has officially dissolved. The terrible TREO of Stench Roach, Major Player, and Wesley Mouch can raise a glass of bubbly and toast their successful elimination of a workforce training institute and their usurpation of its public funding.

TREO cemented SAIAT's demise last year by keeping $132,500 of SAIAT's support for itself, intentionally bleeding the tiny organization to death. Roach's November 7, 2006 letter to county administrator Huckelberry states the following, "With the approval of the SAIAT Board of Directors, SAIAT's funding was reduced from $242,500 to $110,000, but I am happy to report we anticipate improved performance."

Well, either withholding 55% of a non-profit's funding improves performance, or more likely,


Not content with torpedoing the company's finances, in January 2007 TREO met and contracted with a company run by two SAIAT board members (no disclosure). One month later the two tried to fire me. The proposed replacement? One of them.

Their resignations handled, I resigned in May. In June, TREO slashed SAIAT's support from $110,000 to zero.

Economic development comes from gay bohemians, not a skilled workforce. When the CEO of Caterpillar hears of our bohemian community, he will build a transmission plant on 22nd street. Why hire unskilled labor 150 miles to the south when you can hire unskilled Tucson workers at five times the price?

SAIAT - Tens of thousands of workers trained. To those on the board and staff, and especially to all of those companies and employees SAIAT helped, best wishes and good luck.

The Southern Arizona Institute of Advanced Training
Stabbed by TREO 2006 and 2007
Died 2007



Anonymous The Navigator said...

Thank God, finally.

Now move on.

Cigar Man,
I believe a certain promise was made.

12/21/2007 9:40 AM  
Blogger Dustin said...

nav, my sentiments exactly.

12/21/2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...


Your blindness, Matt, a decent man trying to help others, is that you were too honest / innocent to understand the real job of the SAIAT Director. Everyone told you to serve the customized training needs of local employers and survive the 2003 75% funding cut. That was a total lie. No non profit survives a 75% cut in funding.

They told you to close in 2003. A 75% reduction, to a seasoned CEO, means to close the business.

Completely green, you didn’t, and jaws dropped. You will never know the ripples your survival produced. PCC was purple faced livid. Art and Dan Eckstrom despised you. I would mention SAIAT in meetings to watch faces change, especially Linda Andrews and Nancy Russell. In 2004, Eckstrom had about $50K to train workers in basic math, a perfect fit for your extraordinary program, but Eckstrom deliberately steered the training to mediocre instruction at PCC. He openly stated that SAIAT would never see a cent of workforce development funds ever again.

The turnaround slightly increased your funding for 2005. You stood a chance only if you became the person you could never be, one that could understood AND DO your new role.. To the end, you believed your mission was to upgrade the skills of the workforce.

WRONG. Your real job was to make people look good, in particular TREO. Attend meetings and conferences. Acknowledge their support. Thank them repeatedly for having you make a difference whether you make any or not. Declare that you are and give them full credit. Your job was to supply data (true or false made no difference) that they could use to look good.

In exchange for funds, you furnish numbers and let TREO say THEY (“through their partners”) produced the results. With at least 3 times SAIAT’s 2006 support, how many workers did Job Path train? 50? You trained 6300 employees in six weeks. For TI you trained 200+ employees 24/7 in 3 weeks. Why does Hermie get over $3/4 M to train 50 while your throat is cut after serving thousands? She makes people look good, whether she trains a single student or 200.

You were REALITY in a conversation that only cares about PERCEPTION.

As an organization receiving public funds, you were supposed to praise, acknowledge, grovel, lick, and kiss your funding source. Instead you served the community. You’ve read Atlas Shrugged. Do you think Wesley Mouch gives a tinker’s cuss about a lady in a math class? So what if her wage triples? In The Fountainhead Ellsworth Toohey confronted Roark, "Tell me what you think of me."

Roark replied, "But I don’t think of you."

You focused on your results and ignored theirs. It is right out of Ayn Rand’s books. Your competence blinded you to their incompetence. You can’t do that if you receive public funds.

TREO did the work, not SAIAT. TREO met with companies, not SAIAT. TREO trained those people, not SAIAT. TREO altered those lives, not SAIAT. Get it? You do the work. They get the credit. So what if the money was handed to them to hand to you? So what if you made most of your budget on your own? If your budget is a grand, and they give you nickel, they own ALL of your results and want credit for everything.

Good luck with your PhD. I hear your dissertation is HOT. They did you a favor closing SAIAT. The loser is the community. We lost you, and you were a LOT. In two hours before 30 people you make a bigger difference for humanity than Joe Snell will in his life.

In closing, I know people who took your math class. I know people who took your LDP Group 7 (your struggle showed them courage and they suffered with you) and Group 8 (phenomenal). They are different people by virtue of listening to you. More people remember you than you think. Remember those high school kids you taught that summer? Remember Jose? Maria? Karen? They came to you so weak and disconnected. Now they thrive at the U of A with academic confidence and ambition you gave them.

Most of those HTHW people could NOT have participated without first taking your math class. That’s over 100 people. While in Arizona from the front of the room you engaged thousands at the UA, PCC, Magma, and SAIAT. You made a huge difference. You transformed a non profit into something viable at less than a fourth of its prior funding in ONE year. Anyone coming forward with vitriol in your direction can f*** themselves.

It is a damning indictment of this community’s leadership that they tossed a resource like you in the trash. You leave the summer of 2009. What is that, 25 years in Arizona? You will make a great contribution to the next state after you graduate. Good luck, and get back in front of those rooms. You must start teaching and leading programs again. You must.

12/21/2007 11:49 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

I waited all morning for this post from Cigar Man.

I had to print it and read it a couple of times. I feel kind of sick right now.

Cigar Man, I worked for a non profit for over 20 years. So much of what you have said about TREO is so familiar. I can tell you that in those 20 years, I saw almost all of the a**holes leave with their severance packages, but it was always AFTER the damage was done. And, I have seen a lot of damage.

This is one of the major problems with bureaucracies. They serve as hiding places where some of the most incompetent and morally bankrupt people on earth can actually thrive for long periods of time.

I am sorry, X4mr, I know this hurts. It hurts just to read it.

12/21/2007 1:00 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

I can see now why he didn't explain himself before. I wouldn't want to contaminate something like that either, and anyway I don't think it would have mattered. damn that's hard.

Cigar man is right however, you need to be teaching. I remember a post a while back where you had entertained the idea. I would join CM in urging you to teach, it seems (through this lense at least) to be your calling. I hope you do take it up, wherever you decide to go.

In any case this is done now, all of it. I suspect you knew what he would say all along, but sometimes a hard truth is difficult to acknowledge.

12/21/2007 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt - you always did the right thing.
Sounds like Cigar Man is one of the local Establishment Weasels. Whose rear end is his head up?
Agree with the sentiment to move on. It's hard to do, but the right thing. You know in your heart you did the right thing and many others know it too. Take time to grieve, get your Pile it Higher and Deeper degree and then leave us here in the desert.

12/21/2007 7:44 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Last Anon,

I don't know that I always did the right thing. I tried. To err is human, so I don't beat myself up about a few blunders (the copier, don't ask).

Your read on Cigar Man is slightly off, although I don't know him. He is actually one of the good guys (I think).

Thanks for kind words, all.

What you write, Cigar Man, is confronting and frankly depressing. I find it amazing that doing so much for so little would get axed, when the same people spend a fortune for nothing. They spend millions and millions funding such nonsense, and all SAIAT required was $1/4 M for its physical plant.

Alas, the real reality is larger the my reality, including the charade. That the charade is a charade does not mean it is not real. The charade is very real.

Cigar Man makes a very good point that is subtle, which is that even if I knew and understood the charade, I am not able (or perhaps not willing, or both) to play charades.

I like making a real difference, not creating the illusion that I am making a difference. My opinion is that it has something to do with having a soul.

12/21/2007 9:05 PM  
Anonymous The Navigator said...

Cigar Man's post is indeed disturbing. Are we really that pathetic?

Looking at the events in Washington suggests Cigar Man has relevant points.

x4mr, you're a Hank Rearden in many ways. You produced results, and for that they hate you.

As Sirocco has noted most effectively and you have remarked, Ayn Rand has deeply flawed views regarding corporate behavior. You have suggested and I second your encouragement to readers to watch the film "The Corporation."

The corporate cancer aside, Rand's psychological constructs and characters do elucidate what I consider very real characteristics in human beings. There really are Hank Reardens that produce real results and Wesley Mouch weasels that do not.

Consider what a lobbyist is. What does a lobbyist do? I like x4mr's reference to a soul. What soul lies within a person who makes a fortune corrupting politicians?

12/21/2007 10:41 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Yes, we are that pathetic.

I think I could write a book on this subject (I won't) because this is the sort of thing that went on all the time where I worked.

The reason that I was able to stay for so long was because the non profit that I worked for was owned by a local government and employed around 400 people. There were many ways to escape the politics for those who knew their way around. That would not be possible in a small organization like SAIAT.

X4mr, Cigar Man says, "They did you a favor closing SAIAT. The loser is the community."

I thought about this last night. You know, I think he is right. The organization was forced to run on a shoe string budget and you showed them what was possible. However, certain individuals with the power to kill the organization wanted it dead, for their own reasons that obviously conflicted with the welfare of the community.

However, the community doesn't know about these people. They never do until its too late and, oftentimes, they never do find out about the shenanigans that went on.

In your case, there were just too many of them and you didn't stand a chance. Noone would.

For you personally, the demise of this organization is a good thing, just like CM said. You are intact, you are the owner of your experience and knowledge, and you will use it elsewhere.

12/22/2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

I have corresponded with your predecessor, and he replied.

I don't know what he will choose to believe, but I think he realizes you were not a factor behind his demise, and hopefully my message to him, and my remarks to you, allow both of you to move on and put SAIAT behind you.

For entirely different reasons, neither of you were a match for the position. He didn't make people look good either.

Both of you thought SAIAT was supposed to actually accomplish something. That is not what TREO is about.

12/23/2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Has the demise of SAIAT ever been in .. the local news????

1/01/2008 8:53 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Not a peep so far, as I wrote at the end of the updated Chapter 15.

Nor do I think it will ever be. It's a bad thing the powers that be do not wish discussed.

They know about this blog and about "Something Else." The preference is for everything to slip quietly into the night.

The press has been told to let this one be. If you wish to confirm its existence go to Valencia and Country Club and look at SW corner.

The carcass and the "Space for Rent" signs are there.

1/01/2008 9:43 PM  

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