Tuesday, May 11, 2010




Emails released by CSU Stanislaus reveal Chancellor Reed ordered secrecy of Palin contract in an attempt to avoid bad publicity

Documents released earlier this week implicate CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in the ongoing controversy at CSU Stanislaus regarding Sarah Palin’s planned visit.

Among several documents released by California State University Stanislaus regarding the upcoming visit by Palin is an email correspondence between Reed and Bernie Swain, chairman of the Washington Speakers Bureau, the entity with which the university contracted for the Palin event.  The email exchanges reveal that documents were withheld simply to avoid “another round of newspaper stories.”

In an email to Reed, Swain states: “The release of the fee, while well-intentioned to share all details, will likely only serve as the financial headline for a new round of stories rather than the intended purpose of clearing the air and making the stories go away. Your event needs fewer story lines, less oxygen for the fuel, not more. We believe, as others have said, any real damage has already been done and after a few days these inquires and stories will slowly, but surely, end…You are a dear friend and I wish I could make this instantly better for you.”

Reed responded and copied other CSU officials: “Bernie, I agree with you that the damage is done and the disclosure will just cause another round of newspaper stories. The campus should have worked this through with you all in the beginning. I will try and call you the next time I am in Washington and see if we can have lunch or a cup of coffee.”

Kristen Olsen, who heads the Stanislaus campus public relations office, responded to Reed’s email: “Good news. The Chancellor is satisfied now with not disclosing the fee.”

State Senator Leland Yee, who is author of a bill to bring more transparency to CSU auxiliaries, is apparently incensed by the latest revelation in the CSU Stanislaus Foundation’s secrecy saga.

“More and more evidence is demonstrating a clear violation of the public records act by CSU officials, and now there is proof that Chancellor Reed was complicit in it,” said Yee in a news release.  “Chancellor Reed and President Shirvani were more concerned with covering up an embarrassing story than complying with state law.”

“There is absolutely no doubt that public funds – through the use of university resources and employees – have been used for this event and yet the taxpayers are being kept in the dark,” Yee said, adding, “Chancellor Reed is well aware of the law that requires foundation documents in the possession of university employees to be disclosed. The administration has failed the taxpayers and the students. It is now imperative that the Board of Trustees hold these executives accountable.”

View these emails online at: http://calfac.org/allpdf/newsreleas/2010_pressrel/ReedEmailsonStanislaus.pdf


Upon hearing about the most recent twist in the Stanislaus saga, CFA President Lillian Taiz, a professor of history at CSU Los Angeles issued this statement:

"We have seen many of questionable activities in the California State University, especially involving the foundations and other auxiliaries.

"But even we are stunned to learn that CSU Chancellor Charles Reed himself made the decision to cover up the amount of the speaker fee being paid to Sarah Palin by the CSU Stanislaus Foundation.

"The Chancellor’s intimate involvement in avoiding public information requests made under state law because of his fear of negative publicity is a shocking demonstration of poor judgment and questionable leadership.

"His lack of commitment to openness in the governance of our public university system harms not only his image but the credibility of our entire system. Revelations like this embarrass all of us who have spent our careers building this great university.
"CFA calls upon the Attorney General Jerry Brown to expand the scope of his investigation into CSU auxiliaries to include Chancellor Charles Reed and his office at Golden Shores. Apparently campuses hiding information from taxpayers is not only campus policy, but is also the chancellor's system wide policy."

CFA emphasizes that the controversy at Stanislaus – which centers around the campus foundation – shows the pressing need for the passage of CSU transparency legislation Senate Bill 330.

SB 330 – which is currently being considered by the state legislature – will bring greater transparency and accountability to how private donations and student campus fees are used at the California State University, University of California and California Community Colleges. It will place the institutions’ subsidiary organizations – known as “auxiliaries” – under the scope of the California Public Records Act (CPRA) without creating new state costs.

Under existing law, although the CSU, UC and community colleges are already subject to the CPRA, almost all of their auxiliaries are not. This allows these public institutions to hide billions of dollars in “private” entities funded by student campus fees and private donations that have little, if any, transparency or accountability to the public or elected state leaders.

This secrecy has encouraged colleges and universities to create an increasing number of auxiliaries to run campus operations such as food services, parking facilities, housing and bookstores – all of which would be subject to the CPRA and public oversight if they were administered directly by the college or university rather than an auxiliary.

By its own admission, 20 percent of the CSU’s operating budget – or $1.34 billion – is funded by the hidden budgets of its campus and system auxiliaries.

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