CA legislators threaten hearings if UCLA fires CARB whistleblower

posted at 9:01 am on April 2, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

On Thursday, I wrote about Dr. James Enstrom, an environmental sciences professor and researcher at UCLA who blew the whistle on a fraud at the California Air Resources Board.  Enstrom started looking into what he thought was a less-than-rigorous study that attempted to link fine particulate emissions from diesel engines to 2,000 “premature deaths” in the state, and discovered that the lead author, “Dr.” Hien Tran, had received his diploma from Thornhill University instead of UC Davis, which Tran’s CV had claimed.  The school colors of Thornhill University, as it turns out, are brown and brown — UPS brown, because the entire school fit into a mailbox in one of their stores.   Tran, it turns out, bought his PhD from a diploma mill.

Enstrom blew the whistle on Tran, but Mary Nichols, chair of CARB and a UCLA law professor, hid the fraud from the board until after the regulations had been approved.  Enstrom also pointed out that John Froines, another environmental sciences professor at UCLA, had served on the scientific advisory panel for far longer than the charter allowed, where members were supposed to serve for short periods of time to avoid dogmatic thinking.  When the dust had settled, everyone kept their jobs — except for Enstrom, whom UCLA fired for a changing set of reasons.

Enstrom will meet with University of California chancellor Gene Block on Monday to start the appeal of his dismissal, but that may not be the last word.  According to FIRE, which has come to Enstrom’s defense, twelve members of the state Assembly have warned Block that they will hold public hearings into the UC system’s handling of academic freedom if Enstrom’s termination is not rescinded:

Twelve members of the California State Legislature have written UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block and Provost Scott Waugh a letter decrying UCLA’s treatment of longtime Department of Environmental Health Sciences faculty member James E. Enstrom. Professor Enstrom was let go from UCLA after some 34 years under circumstances detailed by FIRE and described in a video released yesterday from Reason.tv.

Led by Chief Republican Whip Dan Logue, Assemblymember, Third District, the legislators write that they “remain deeply troubled by the University’s inability to provide credible cause for Dr. Enstrom’s dismissal, and the appearance of political interference in the University’s academic discourse.”

They also raise concerns “as to the integrity of this process,” since UCLA’s allegation that Enstrom failed to meet his department’s “minimum requirements” appears to have been based on a document dating back to 1995 that Enstrom had never seen and which might not be at all applicable to Enstrom’s position. (I wrote about this document a couple of weeks ago.) The legislators write that “this policy of minimum requirements has neither been enforced with the Department, nor has the document been provided to Dr. Enstrom despite his specific request. This seems arbitrary and capricious and undermines the legitimacy of the Department’s reasons for dismissal.”

What about Tran and Nichols?  They both still have their jobs.  Tran got a 60-day suspension and a demotion, but still works as an air pollution specialist for the state despite his record of fraudulent representation.  Nichols still chairs CARB.  Froines, after a brief departure, returned to CARB’s scientific advisory panel to chair their toxicology committee, after voting to fire Enstrom at UCLA.  The only person who lost their job from Enstrom’s whistleblowing was Enstrom himself.

I embedded the Reason TV video on Thursday, but it’s worth a second look:

If you want to contact Block and express your opinion on how UCLA has treated Enstrom, his contact information can be found here.  For more on Hien Tran and his misrepresentation of credentials — apparently not a firing offense in California as long as your “studies” support increased regulation — go here.


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Yup.
So glad I shook the CA dust off my heels in Sept. 2005 and returned home after 25 yrs. out there.

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 9:06 AM

PhD: “Magne Cum Laude”!
I suppose that cost an extra 250 bucks.

Marcus on April 2, 2011 at 9:16 AM

PhD: “Magne Cum Laude”!
I suppose that cost an extra 250 bucks.

Marcus on April 2, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Discounted if one is a minority of one stripe or another.

darwin-t on April 2, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Enstrom also pointed out that John Froines, another environmental sciences professor at UCLA, had served on the scientific advisory panel for far longer than the charter allowed, where members were supposed to serve for short periods of time to avoid dogmatic thinking.

Froines was on it for 26 years though the charter had a limit of 3 years.

Blake on April 2, 2011 at 9:26 AM

While they can hold hearings, the fact that the voters in California continue to elect Democrats by a wide margin means the odds are good unless this somehow finds a voice outside of state Republican legislators and the conservative blogosphere, Block and Wough are simply going to tell the group, in university-speak, to pound sand when it comes to reversing Enstrom’s termination.

jon1979 on April 2, 2011 at 9:29 AM

I hope Dr. Enstrom’s chances are better than Mr. Walpin’s. This is getting scary.

Cindy Munford on April 2, 2011 at 9:29 AM

“twelve members of the state Assembly have warned Block that they will hold public hearings into the UC system’s handling of academic freedom if Enstrom’s termination is not rescinded::

Huh? Reinstated or not the investigation should proceed. Allowing the administration off the hook is a crime in itself.

Nichols should be in the slammer. A lawyer, an acaedimic, a tax supported position of public trust and she is scum. The truth means nothing to her if if it interferes with ideology. A public whipping might be in order too.

FOWG1 on April 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM

So, universities like UVA protect those that toe the AGW line and UCLA fires those that don’t? Is that what I’m reading? Sounds like a pattern, Friday….sounds like a pattern.

ted c on April 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM

oh yeah, ACADEMIC FREEDOM…should work both ways for Michael Mann and this guy, eh?

ted c on April 2, 2011 at 9:32 AM

And we’re still concerned and holding out hope for CA why?

bbhack on April 2, 2011 at 9:33 AM

These are the same people who would suppose themselves in charge of everything in their new world order, why, because they’re better than the rest of us.

Bishop on April 2, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Legislators should drag Hien Tran in and demand proof that he is academically qualified to serve on any scientific advisory board. It sounds like he got his credentials from a box of Cracker Jack!

After that, bring in Mary Nichols and make her explain why she is firing a qualified scientist who saw something seriously wrong in what is happening at CARB and did something about it, while she is at the same time defending what amounts to a non-scientist with non-scientific qualifications who was making recommendations that he had no qualifications to make in the first place.

And then go one better and nationally televise the whole mess!

pilamaye on April 2, 2011 at 9:37 AM

This needs to get to John and Ken on KFI-640 AM in Los Angeles…

Khun Joe on April 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM

And we’re still concerned and holding out hope for CA why?

bbhack on April 2, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Because they’re driving trucking and bussing companies out of the state. California isn’t a lost cause. Watch the video – the owner of that trucking company said he is not going to replace 18 trucks at 200,000 dollars a pop.
Well, fella, it’s not for this Texan to fight your battle.

Marcus on April 2, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Once again, we’re at war and this war has many fronts. The fact that the vast majority of our college’s have become nothing other than a politically driven mouth piece for the progressives is a real “shame on us” moment in America. My son was punished by all of his professors for being an active member of the young Republicans club on his campus. This is a dark day in America, but much light is being shed on every piece of the progressive machinery, which gives me great hope.

Keemo on April 2, 2011 at 9:43 AM

It’s okay for the DOJ to clear itself of allegations…why not UCLA? And CARB?

Hooray for the legislators threatening to hold hearings but…in what sane world has that line not already been crossed? Hold the hearings regardless, and look into the whole mess.

TexasDan on April 2, 2011 at 9:44 AM

bbhack on April 2, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Because when it comes to bad science and stupid regulations, California is the leader. Soon these ridiculous requirements will march across the nation. The thing I don’t get is that all of the sudden someone’s worried about the premature death of seniors? Less work for the death panels.

Cindy Munford on April 2, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Cindy Munford on April 2, 2011 at 9:45 AM

If the patient is in denial, do you want to try to force something? You can’t. This will run it’s course somehow.

bbhack on April 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

You may have mentioned it, but Froines is one of the Chicago Seven.

DrEvilDoer on April 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

FIRE is a good outfit. Anyone with an extra buck or two might consider sending it their way.

petefrt on April 2, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Wonder if Roger Hedgecock is on this?

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 10:01 AM

You may have mentioned it, but Froines is one of the Chicago Seven.

DrEvilDoer on April 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Wow! He’s right!

Here is the Wikipaedia link!

pilamaye on April 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Yup.
So glad I shook the CA dust off my heels in Sept. 2005 and returned home after 25 yrs. out there.

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Don’t you mean the “

fine particulate emissions from diesel engines.”

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on April 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM

bbhack on April 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

I am not as optimistic as you are.

Cindy Munford on April 2, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Reinstated or not the investigation should proceed. Allowing the administration off the hook is a crime in itself.

Amen. What other bogus “scientific” garbage will these frauds produce? Doctor Mail Order PhD should be fired immediately, as should all the liars who guy him/her cover.

Reminds me of something an instructor told one of our undergraduate classes when he was asked about seeking advanced degrees. He had a PhD. He responded, “Well, when you people finish this program, you’ll have a BS Degree. We all know what BS is. If you go on, then you’ll have an MS Degree. MS, that’s More of the Same. If you want to hang in after that, you can pursue a PhD. That stands for piled higher and deeper.”

Sad, but that appears to be the state of what passes for higher education in this country.

oldleprechaun on April 2, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on April 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Lolz.

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 10:10 AM

The Emperor has no clothes…..so…..

……definitely shoot the one that points it out to the crowd.

Cali is lost.

PappyD61 on April 2, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Cali is lost.

PappyD61 on April 2, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought when I made my exodus…

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 10:16 AM

With this kind of “science” the Earth would still be flat!

gullxn on April 2, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Typical ethics of Democrats.

GarandFan on April 2, 2011 at 10:23 AM

First, I know that, as a result of some unpleasantness around here a few years back, states may no longer secede themselves. Howsomevah, isn’t there some way we twist the law around to where we can secede them ourselves?

Second, it’s bad enough that in places like the Peoples Republic of California (Massachusetts, Wisconsin, et al), we have come to expect such shenanigans as the above in academia. But even in the (trust me) very conservative area of the country I live in ‘Down Heah’, the liberal fascists run the colleges and universities – even the ones with religious denominations in their name. In the name of humanity, is there nothing that can be done?

Knott Buyinit on April 2, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Cali is lost.
PappyD61 on April 2, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Don’t worry, the rest of the states will bail them out for their stupid choices.

HellCat on April 2, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Esa es la forma de hacer negocios aquí en el norte de México.

repvoter on April 2, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Yup.
So glad I shook the CA dust off my heels in Sept. 2005 and returned home after 25 yrs. out there.
OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I too escaped Cali and relocated to the south. The loons on the left have destroyed Cali.

grapeknutz on April 2, 2011 at 10:36 AM

This needs to get to John and Ken on KFI-640 AM in Los Angeles…

Khun Joe on April 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM

John and Ken have been talking about this story for a few years. I wish there was some justice coming down the line here, but there won’t be. CA is controlled by socialists and the voters don’t give a damn.

Mark1971 on April 2, 2011 at 10:42 AM

The loons on the left have destroyed Cali.

grapeknutz on April 2, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Yup.
And it’s probably beyond fixing.

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Cali is lost.

PappyD61 on April 2, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Face it, the voter rolls are too polluted with ‘non-citizens’ for the saner voters to take the state back. That’s WHY the dems maintain control of the state house.

And they’d had a couple of decades to make sure it stays that way.

Unfortunately, the ‘cure’ for that is going have to come from above state-level, probably.

Good luck with that.

CPT. Charles on April 2, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Yes, John Froines is one of the Chicago 7 and has been living his radical ideals ever since. It’s no accident he has been on CARB for 26 years. It’s a comfy place from which to destroy the country he hates.

http://tinyurl.com/295vs4b

PattyJ on April 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Mary Nichols, chair of CARB and a UCLA law professor, hid the fraud from the board until after the regulations had been approved.

She should be fired from both CARB and UCLA, and the California Bar should pull her law license, if she has one. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

AZCoyote on April 2, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Overheard a conversation between two friends at lunch about a recent vacation to Laguna Beach. One said, it is so beautiful there, why wouldn’t everyone want to live there? Other replied, 11% taxes. I thought to myself loony liberals.

txmomof6 on April 2, 2011 at 11:24 AM

There was a time “science” was self-policing, via both an honor system and replication of results, in order to assure that a) scientists could trust each others’ work, b) the rest of the world could trust “science”.

In the short and medium term, they have damaged us, from CA taxpayers and voters through people worldwide via Mann, etc. In the longer term, they have shot themselves in the foot. How will they get back honor and trust?

jodetoad on April 2, 2011 at 11:29 AM

What difference does it make if he graduated from UC Davis or Griftor U? They want the study conclusions to fit their leftist agendas, and UC Davis graduates are no less likely to support this role. The place is infested with Move-on.commies.

LA Conservative on April 2, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Cool! I live in California, and I’m mailing in for my PHD right now! All this time, I thought it was illegal to advance your career using fake diplomas. Well not here, apparently, so in a couple of weeks, you can call me “Dr.” Is this a great state or what?!! /s

Hoof Hearted on April 2, 2011 at 11:43 AM

In the old Soviet Block the government was really like a mafia gang that protected itself first and foremost. When someone pointed out problems, they accused them of being insane and sent them to “insane asylums” for “treatment” (read torture). Under the left wing regimes here, we saw an inspector who accuses one of the president’s cronies of corruption branded as having alzheimers when clearly he did not.

In the old Soviet Block complainers lost their jobs and could not be employed. Here under left wing governance, the same has happened to Dr. Enstrom. If we let these things go, they will become routine and fewer and fewer will have the courage to challenge the corruption and deceit that grows and grows over time when those in power feel impervious.

KW64 on April 2, 2011 at 11:58 AM

“UC Davis graduates are no less likely to support this role”

I should have added as evidence that it is the UC system that wants to term the whistle blower.

LA Conservative on April 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM

“twelve members of the state Assembly have warned Block that they will hold public hearings into the UC system’s handling of academic freedom if Enstrom’s termination is not rescinded::

Huh? Reinstated or not the investigation should proceed. Allowing the administration off the hook is a crime in itself.

Nichols should be in the slammer. A lawyer, an acaedimic, a tax supported position of public trust and she is scum. The truth means nothing to her if if it interferes with ideology. A public whipping might be in order too.

FOWG1 on April 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Deserved to be repeated.

Ira on April 2, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Little fun fact about “Thornhill University”. It is run by a fugitive pedophile located in Israel.

kurtzz3 on April 2, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Would have loved to see Enstrom write a paper that describes the increase in air quality in California was through Devine Intervention. Hahaha, that would send ‘em all off the deep end!

the Coondawg on April 2, 2011 at 12:48 PM

You may have mentioned it, but Froines is one of the Chicago Seven.

DrEvilDoer on April 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Nice catch, Doc. Surprising, although I suppose it shouldn’t be.

iurockhead on April 2, 2011 at 1:24 PM

They shouldn’t be threatening hearings, the hearings should already be underway regardless of whether he gets his job back or not.

ButterflyDragon on April 2, 2011 at 2:06 PM

California False Claims Act (from Wikipedia article)

The California False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation from their employer under a section entitled: “Section 12653. Employer interference with employee disclosures.” Under this section, employers may not make rules that prevent an employee from disclosing information to the government in furtherance of a false claims action, an employer may not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, deny promotion to, or in any other manner discriminate against, an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because he or she has disclosed information to the government.

Left Coast Right Mind on April 2, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Because they’re driving trucking and bussing companies out of the state. California isn’t a lost cause. Watch the video – the owner of that trucking company said he is not going to replace 18 trucks at 200,000 dollars a pop.
Well, fella, it’s not for this Texan to fight your battle.

Marcus on April 2, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Unfortunately I find the truck owner using misleading information. He’s claiming it’s going to drive him out of business because he can’t afford to purchase new trucks.

That is a legitimate argument if that was his only choice.

But then he shows the mufflers he can purchase in lieu of buying new trucks that are at $15k a pop. His argument against purchasing the mufflers is that because of the law, the current trucks he own would only be worth $5k. Well sure, if he tried to sell them to someone that wanted to keep them in California.

So, he’s being somewhat dishonest about the worth of the trucks. Out of state buyers would snatch them up.

I have no doubt he will be purchasing the new mufflers for all his trucks. So his argument that they’re driving him out of business isn’t quite 100% honest.

While these CARB regulations are ridiculous and clearly reached by fraud, it does the opposition no good to be squirrelly with their own facts when trying to use anecdotal evidence opposing the regulations.

He should be using the science presented by Enstrom and other scientists that prove he shouldn’t be having to make any changes to stay in business.

It’s stories like this that makes me wish all liberals in this country would band together reside in one state. Allow them to run it without interference and without the support of free market forces outside of that state.

Let them create their Armageddon and live in the rot.

ButterflyDragon on April 2, 2011 at 2:29 PM

oh yeah, ACADEMIC FREEDOM…should work both ways for Michael Mann and this guy, eh?

ted c on April 2, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Academic freedom was never intended as a cover for academic fraud. The thing Michael Mann should solely be know for.

Slowburn on April 2, 2011 at 4:24 PM

The trouble is, for every one with a fake diploma there are nine willing to do the same thing with real diplomas.

AshleyTKing on April 2, 2011 at 4:42 PM

PhD: “Magne Cum Laude”!
I suppose that cost an extra 250 bucks.

Marcus on April 2, 2011 at 9:16 AM

You’d think that would be the tip-off that something was wrong. Cum laude honors are undergrad and law school honors in the US. It’s not impossible, but I’ve never heard of a school giving cum laude honors to a scientist or statistician.

It’s incredible that the university never checked his credentials.

obladioblada on April 2, 2011 at 6:27 PM

The trouble is, for every one with a fake diploma there are nine willing to do the same thing with real diplomas.

AshleyTKing on April 2, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Is a A*2 degree from Hahvahd any better than those UPS degrees?

slickwillie2001 on April 2, 2011 at 7:08 PM

This entire thing reeks from beginning to end. Proving once again, liberals are out to defraud everyone. EVERYONE!!! Even those who blindly follow, and obey them, without giving themselves a chance at some clear rational thinking. They talk about justice…but evade these injustices.

I hope this man gets his job back, but I hope it’s somewhere better, and he can somehow prove to Californians the fraud that’s been perpetrated on them and the entire world, for years.

capejasmine on April 2, 2011 at 7:33 PM

What about Tran and Nichols? They both still have their jobs.

Of course!!! This is California…and they THINK correctly.
Welcome to the world of Boxer, Feinstein, Brown, Villaragosa, the L.A. City council…we’ve got every lib goofball you’ve ever read or heard about.

Now give the state all of your money if you live here…and wait for the Nation to bail you out if you work for a PSU (oh…and make sure you whine about it while collecting those salaries and perks).

Tim_CA on April 2, 2011 at 8:37 PM

This needs to get to John and Ken on KFI-640 AM in Los Angeles…

Khun Joe on April 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM

John and Ken have been talking about this story for a few years. I wish there was some justice coming down the line here, but there won’t be. CA is controlled by socialists and the voters don’t give a damn.

Mark1971 on April 2, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Thanks to J&K the right in the state have indeed known about this since it went public years ago. Now we’ve got our own state-run mini-version of the EPA – CARB. They’re effectively chasing the last few profitable companies out of the state. Trucking and cement / concrete production were especially hard hit.

They used this goofball’s report to prepare their “Requirements”.

Tim_CA on April 2, 2011 at 9:14 PM

I feel so powerless against this kind of injustice in California. I’ll write, but they won’t listen. The only choiice I have ultimately is to leave or stay… and when they drive my company out of business or out of the state, well, that will decide the issue for me.

theCork on April 3, 2011 at 2:16 AM

When the state voted Brown back as Gov and reelected Boxer I gave up. Dems ruined us with their PC idiocy and crazy envoronmental concerns.

FireBlogger on April 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM

“I left California”
“I got out of there while I could”
“Boy, I’m getting out as soon as I can”

“Hey, I wonder how we got into this mess?”

Merovign on April 3, 2011 at 7:56 PM