Well, it turns out the concept is voluntary, at least for Robert Kennedy, the President of the Board of Regents, and his senior staff.
The CTMirror and Hartford Courant have now added a blockbuster piece of news to the controversy surrounding the $300,000 in raises that were given out to employees who work in the executive offices of the Board of Regents.
According to the news reports, Robert Kennedy, whose salary is $350,000, plus a performance bonus, authorized 21 raises, despite the fact that the Malloy-SEBAC deal eliminated pay raises for all (other) state employees.
In addition, Kennedy and his team are now admitting that they unilaterally gave out the raises, rather than have the full Board of Regents vote on them, as required by law.
As the CTMirror notes, Kennedy is telling reporters that he “mistakenly” authorized the raises, and claiming that he was unaware that the law creating his new agency only allows the full Board of Regents to “establish terms and conditions of employment of its staff, prescribe their duties and fix the compensation of its professional and technical personnel.”
Kennedy explained, “I approved them mistakenly thinking I had the authority to do so.”
But, apparently “bowing” to the legal requirement, the full Board of Regents will meet tomorrow to address the matter. According to Kennedy, “If they felt they were inappropriate, they can rescind them.”
And in the meantime?
Kennedy says the raises will stay in place.
Wait, what? The illegal raises will stay in place unless and until the Board of Regents rescinds them?
And here we thought illegal meant, well… illegal.
But in the world made up by the new Board of Regents, one would say to the police officer; “I think I’ll just hold on to these illegal drugs until a judge orders that they be taken away. And in the meantime, I’ll just keep using them.”
Explaining how the mistake was made, the communication department of the agency in charge of Connecticut’s State Universities and State Colleges released a statement that read;
“In many cases, those duties are delegated to the chief executive officer. In this case, President Kennedy approved the salary adjustments and the Board of Regents … will review and determine the appropriateness of all personnel salary adjustments that were made on the basis of additional duties, responsibilities, and roles assigned resulting from the consolidation.”
The Governor’s Office also seemed to brush off the illegal action. Governor Malloy’s spokesman was quoted by the CTMirror as saying, “It’s clear there is a process in place, and that process was not followed. They are taking steps to address it.”
And the Governor himself was quoted, in the same article, as having said on WTIC radio, “The Regents’ system needs to run itself, but it needs to run itself well and be accountable to the public. And I think this thing is going to turn out OK,”
Apparently no one reminded the Governor that it was he who had appointed Robert Kennedy and that nine of the nine of the fifteen voting members of the Board of Regents were appointed by him to serve on that Board.
As to how illegal raises could possibly be allowed to stay in place until the Board of Regents votes one way or the other, the CTMirror also reported that, “State Attorney General George Jepsen declined to take sides. A statement from his office said it ‘has not been involved in this matter and there are insufficient facts at this time to offer any view on whether laws were violated.’”
So let the word go forth from this place that Ignorantia juris non excusat (sometimes known as “ignorance of the law does not excuse”) need not apply when it comes to the man Governor Malloy appointed to head Connecticut’s new Board of Regents system.
For the latest go to CTMirror: https://www.ctmirror.org/story/17687/higher-education-chief-mistakenly-ordered-22-executive-raises-without-board-approval