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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Any Comments or Observations on Jake's "Townhall" of May 7?

Bloggie watched the video feed.  It all seemed to be very controlled: small room, questions submitted by safe email, the  hand-selected "crowd" densely loaded with shills, Larry Burns feeding Jake the questions.  Apparently they wished to avoid an embarrassment like the the last townhall, where they made the strategic blunder of actually admitting some townspeople to the townhall.  They won't repeat that mistake again! 

Any eyewitnesses out there? 

Please do comment.


Anonymous said...

I thought I heard him say more layoffs were coming. Supposedly 4 Secretary 2s got their layoff notices today...

Ed Tech said...

May I? This most recent Town Hall meeting convened on the UT hospital campus. There were no angry students with protest signs and pamphlets. This perhaps explains what then transpired as President Jacobs, much relieved, faced again a live and online Town Hall audience. His comments (preceded by the monthly Jefferson Award ceremony, and then a deserved deep bow to the long-suffering and loyal nursing professionals at UT) focused for the most part on budgetary gloom and doom scenarios and impacts. This bad news on the budget front highlighted by intimations of worse news to come in the coming months was oddly interspersed with some crowd-pleasing comic Jacobs’ hijinks. For example, when asked yet once again if he planned to give back all or part of his initial big longevity bonus check (perhaps for charitable purposes) President Jacobs spontaneously responded with a chuckle, and I paraphrase here: "Hardly. I spent THAT money a looooong time ago. Next question!" I guess there are so many "catch-22's" in the present budget and planning process across both campuses that absurdity and "black humor" -- like rats in the rafters -- have begun to sneak into to the newly shrink-wrapped, hermetically-sealed and carefully-scripted Lloyd and Larry Town Hall show. In this case the unexpected levity worked well for the usually lugubrious Lloyd. He came off with the joke as affable and human -- if not exactly humane. The audience laughed right along with Lloyd and it was a rare Town Hall jovial moment. More important, nobody complained that his joke was insensitive. Inspired thus by the power of real transparency, Lloyd moments later seized the entire day with a second impromptu display of his newly-discovered comic talent. This time he used a clueless Larry Burns, his companion on the speaker’s platform, as his straight man. In response to a question about the possible threat of swine flu spreading during graduation ceremonies, President Jacobs paused in thought then abruptly shook hands with a startled Larry, after which he proceeded to slooooooowly wipe his own face with the palm of the hand that shook Larry's. "Never do that!" he then solemnly advised to his spell-bound audience. Again, laughter erupted. It was indeed Lloyd's moment. What would he do next? Well, what he did next, after a long pause, was with bravado to repeat the entire joke: handshake; wipe face, solemn advice. Total replay. What worked once well worked twice! Encouraging laughter nearly shook the walls. I expected he might do it a third time, but he did not. In sum, the President's unexpected comic spontaneity under the stress of having to deliver more bad tidings amidst as seemingly endless and bottomless downward budgetary spiral won the admiration of this Town Hall crowd. Will it work next time? Will more rats ride the rafters? Will the Presidential Town Hall turn into Tuesday Afternoon Live? Stay tuned.