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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Corruption, Irony, and My Favorite Latin Phrase: Scandal At CSU

Peter Sachs, of the Chi Town Daily, had an article last week in which the tone didn't match the information about newly minted President ELECT of Chicago State University, Wayne Watson. Earlier this summer, after an exhaustive search, Watson was chosen to take over as President of the embattled university. He was supposed to take over officially on August 1. Then, when he was introduced, he was introduced as President Elect. This was curious since he wasn't elected. There was confusion over the situation and the powers that be didn't shed any light on the situation. The public university never released a press release to the media. More than that, staff and administration never received any correspondence. The whole thing was cryptic. Sachs spoke with Watson and some light was shed on the situation.

Watson says he won’t start as president until Oct. 1 – not Aug. 1 as stated in his contract – because the State Universities Retirement System of Illinois requires pensioners to take a 60-day break between jobs.

He says he’s not sure why someone didn’t catch the pension issue before he signed his contract in April.

Sachs had a copy of the contract signed by Watson and it called for him to start on August 1st. It's not totally clear how it is that he isn't officially the president but the late start violates the terms of the contract. It appears to me as though Watson's pension contract with Chicago City Colleges, his previous employer, called for him to wait 60 days to start a new job in order to receive the pension. It appears that CSU is accomodating Watson by allowing him to start late in order to fulfill the terms of his pension so that he can receive the pension from CCC. His contract calls for him to start on August 1st. It hasn't been amended, and yet he's still not the president but the dubious President Elect. That's a breach of contract.

Watson goes on to say that it "was probably missed" referring to the clause in his pension. That maybe so, but it's his pension. So, isn't it his responsibility to catch it? This is an enormous concession the school is giving to its future president. The school now starts the school year without a president so that he can qualify to get his pension.

Meanwhile, several high level positions remain unfilled. One of those position is Director of Human Resources. So, the person responsible for hiring the rest of the positions including: VP of Student Affairs, Executive Director of University Relations and Interim VP of the Office of Institutional Advancement is themselves unhired. Meanwhile, the President that would lead the search to hire most of these folks can't start for a bit more than a month because starting earlier would violate his pension requirements. Because CSU is a public school, the chaos all this creates is all being done using tax payer money.

Back in March of this year, then Director of H.R., Seth Hossick, complained to the Office of the Executive Inspector General because he felt that Chairman of the Board of Trustees of CSU, Reverend Leon Finney, was exerting far too much influence in hiring decisions. This violated the charter which strictly prohibits the trustees from getting involved in day to day decisions. Hossick was fired, without cause, not three months later. In fact, most of the positions currently unfilled were created because those that occupied them were fired without cause.

Just think about that for a minute. The incoming president is allowed to start two months late because that will allow him to keep to the terms of his pension. By doing so he not only leaves the school without a president for more than a month of the school year but technically violates the terms of his contract. The contract isn't changed. He's just allowed to start late in technical violation of the contract with no discipline or explanation. Meanwhile, the Head of H.R. complains to the IG because they aren't allowed to do their job by trustees that are getting involved in areas they aren't supposed to be involved in, and he's summarily fired.

I've done several stories on corruption. Corruption and irony always go hand in hand. That's because corruption by nature means different people are treated totally differently for the same action. For instance, when Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled $1 million from ACORN, the higher ups covered up the embezzlement. Meanwhile, when it was discovered that whistle blower Anita Moncrief used a company credit card to charge less than $1000 in personal charges, ACORN sued her and continues that suit in court today. That's pretty ironic. It's the hallmark of corruption.

The same thing is in play here. I've been told by inside sources that the selection of Watson is all part of a power play by Finney to exert control over the university. So, when it was discovered that were he to start on time he would violate his pension, he was allowed to start two months late with no one batting an eye. Meanwhile, after the H.R. Director reported on corruption, they were fired without cause. That's pretty ironic and the hallmark of corruption.

I also believe that corruption ultimately can be described by my favorite Latin phrase, Res Ipsa Loquitor (the facts speak for themselves). Wayne Watson can't start on time because that would violate his pension. The school let's him start late and doesn't even change his contract which calls for him to start on August 1. The Director of H.R. reports on corruption, a violation of the school's charter, and three months later they're fired without cause. Res Ipsa Loquitor.

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