AAUP-UConn, Malloy, UConn, Unions AAUP-UConn, Malloy, UConn, Unions
If there was any doubt that Governor Dannel Malloy was lying to state employees last fall when he was courting their vote, they need only look to the decision by Malloy’s political appointees on UConn’s Board of Trustees to hire a New Jersey based, corporate law firm with close ties to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead the contract negotiations against UConn’s faculty.
New Jersey lawyer John J. Peirano, a partner with Elroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, has been given a contract that could cost state taxpayers and UConn students $500,000 or more to serve as the lead negotiator against the American Association of University Professors – UConn Chapter.
Peirano’s firm, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, is closely connected to Christie. The firm’s Managing Director, Edward Deutsch, served on Christie’s gubernatorial transition team and is now a member of the Christie for President fundraising committee. The firm’s Newark Managing Partner was recently appointed Christie’s chief legal counsel and other firm lawyers have been appointed by Christie to major New Jersey Boards and Commissions.
The news that the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees had hired a big time, out-of-state law firm to represent UConn in its negotiations with the faulty was first reported here at Wait, What? in an article entitled UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union.
While both the Hartford Courant and CT Mirror have recently followed with their own news stories about the development, both media outlets skipped over any reference to the law firm’s connection with Governor Christie. The Hartford Courant article is here – UConn’s Hiring Of Outside Law Firm Angers Faculty and the CT Mirror story is here – UConn begins labor contract talks with cost savings as goal.
As confirmed in the news reports, UConn will be paying the New Jersey firm $250,000 plus expenses for its work through December with an automatic contract extension into 2016. The cost to UConn students and Connecticut taxpayers for the out-of-state “expertise” will run $310 an hour for attorney Peirano’s help. Considering how long contract negotiations generally last, the total cost for the New Jersey law firm could easily surpass $500,000.
While UConn already spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on its own legal and labor relation staff, what makes the decision to hire outside negotiators particularly newsworthy is that this will be the first time that UConn has hired outside labor negotiators.
Considering Governor Dannel Malloy serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, appoints the Chairman of the Board and directly appoints and controls the majority of the members of the board, the unprecedented decision has the Malloy administration’s fingerprints all over it.
The choice UConn made is also a strange one. In addition to the close relationship that the New Jersey law firm has with Republican Governor Chris Christie, is the fact that controversy has often surrounded John J. Peirano, the law firm’s lawyer who will be leading the UConn negotiating operation.
A review of his track record reviles that Peirano has been associated with a series of unfair labor practice charges brought by unions, not to mention the role Peirano played in the Christie administration’s failed attempt to privatize the New Jersey Turnpike.
After taking office, Governor Christie created the New Jersey Privatization Task Force in March 2011. Two months later, the anti-union governor’s Task Force reported that “privatization offers a variety of benefits to governments and taxpayers including lower costs, improvements in the quality of public services and access to private sector capital and professional expertise.”
A corresponding effort to privatize the New Jersey Turnpike Authority was derailed when the contract with toll collectors was extended for two years after toll collectors agreed to salary cuts of about 25 percent — from around $65,000 a year to $49,500 annually.
Attorney Peirano has been a lead labor lawyer for the Turnpike Authority.
Despite the major concessions given by toll collectors, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority issued a Request for Proposal to privatize the work of the Turnpike’s toll attendants. The plan called for firing more than 200 full-time public employees and approximately 350 part-time employees, although the RFP did include a provision that would require any private contractor to offer positions, even if they were at a much lower salary level, to any of the public employees who would be laid off.
However, only a few weeks later, on February 25, 2011, the Turnpike Authority suspiciously eliminated the First Right of Refusal provision from the RFP.
In response to the Turnpike Authority’s decision to cut the public employees off at the knees and not even allow them an initial opportunity to remain employed, the union filed a lawsuit claiming the action was in retribution for the union’s outspoken opposition to the plan and that the Turnpike Authority’s action should not be allowed to stand.
In his brief to the court, the Turnpike Authority’s lawyer, Attorney Peirano, blasted the union and the public employees they represented in a court brief that opined,
“In an effort to undermine that decision, plaintiffs – the union representing toll collectors and seven of its members – have impermissibly sought to derail that process by manufacturing a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court.”
As the Star-Ledger reported at the time in an article entitled,
Wednesday in federal court, a lawyer for the toll collectors said that after they spoke out against plans this summer to privatize their jobs, the authority on Feb. 25 vindictively removed a “right of first refusal” provision that would have given the toll takers first dibs on jobs with the new company handling toll collection.
The clause was removed two days after union members picketed and protested at an authority meeting, and Simpson told reporters after the meeting he was “not happy” with the way toll collectors were behaving.
“The timing here could not be any clearer,” said lawyer Steven Weissman, representing International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local No. 194.
But John J. Peirano, a lawyer representing the authority, said toll collector protests did not lead to the removal of the right of first refusal provision.
The provision was removed because it was causing some prospective bidders to drop out, he said. Even though 23 prospective bidders initially expressed interest, only four bids were received.”
Whether the move was an immoral attempt to silence the unions or an unethical attempt to appease private contractors, the net effect was the same.
Attorney Peirano and his client, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, was intent on privatizing a public activity and refused to even give the displaced workers a first right of refusal to keep their jobs.
Inherently, despite the Christie administration’s best efforts, the ill-conceived privatization effort later collapsed.
Now that same lawyer is part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s team.
And as for Malloy and his record on higher education…
The CT Mirror reported yesterday that as a result of Governor Malloy’s utter failure to propose sufficient funding for the University of Connecticut and the state’s other public institutions of higher education,
The university in June reported is was facing a $52.7 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins in July 2016 — a 4 percent hole in the $1.36 billion needed to continue providing existing programs, services and salary levels. That projection was made before the final two-year state budget was adopted, providing UConn $4.5 million less than its leaders were anticipating.
University officials declined Wednesday to provide updated budget projections for the fiscal year that starts in nine months.
Chris Christie, Collective Bargaining, Malloy, UConn Chris Christie, Collective Bargaining, Malloy, UConn
For the first time in UConn history, the University of Connecticut will not be using their own legal and labor relations staff to negotiate the upcoming contract with the University’s professors.
Instead, Governor Dannel Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees have retained a New Jersey based law firm known for their anti-union record and their close relationship with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Although the public and students pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for UConn’s existing legal and labor relations staff, earlier this year the UConn Board of Trustees authorized President Susan Herbst to sign a lucrative agreement with McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP to represent the State and the University of Connecticut at the bargaining table through the end of the year.
The generous deal hands $250,000 over to the New Jersey based firm for their work through December 31, 2015 and then allows UConn to “extend” the contract, without re-bidding, into 2016.
Considering negotiations only officially began this week, the agreement virtually guarantees the New Jersey firm will get a half a million dollars or more in state and student funds in the coming months.
According to one of the websites that track law firms, McElroy, Deutsch generates gross revenue of about $120 million a year with a “Profit per Partner” of about $970,000.
As the Star Tribune reported, the amount of New Jersey state business that McElroy, Deutsch, was getting skyrocketed after Christie took office. In just the first couple of years of his administration the law firm’s take from state work jumped by more than fivefold.
The law firm’s Managing Attorney, Edward Deutsch, who served as a high ranking member of Christie’s transition and has since been appointed by Christie to other major commissions explained in an interview that the money flowing into his law firm was a result of the “spike in state business to the firm [after] taking over contract negotiations with labor unions, a critical focus of the Christie administration.”
The law firm’s relationship with Christie is extensive. The New Jersey Governor appointed McElroy, Deutsch partner Walter Timpone to serve as Vice Chairman of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the agency responsible for regulating campaign financing for all state’s elections and campaign finance laws.
Last year, Christie named Louis Modugno, another McElroy Deutsch partner, to serve as a Commissioner on the State of New Jersey School Ethics Commission. Like Governor Malloy, Governor Christie is a major advocate of charter schools and the corporate education reform industry, which in New Jersey makes the School Ethics Commission a key appointment.
And just this past summer, Christie named Thomas Scrivo, McElroy, Deutsch’s Managing Partner in their Newark office as his Chief Counsel.
With Chris Christie now running for President, the law firm’s Managing Attorney, Edward Deutsch, is back in the news as one of Christie’s fundraising leaders.
As for the situation in Connecticut, according to information released by the University of Connecticut, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter partner John Peirano will “lead the negotiations” for UConn and the State of Connecticut.
According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Connecticut and New Jersey, Peirano has an extremely rocky and controversial record when it comes to union negotiations, with multiple unfair labor practice complaints arising from his work.
Both Rutgers University and Rutgers’ medical school, the Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey, used attorney Peirano and McElroy, Deutsch with chaotic and even catastrophic results.
With Attorney Peirano playing a leading role in the negotiations at BHSNJ, the Rutgers medical school is still negotiating an initial contract after more than 6 years and the negotiating tactics lead to at least one Unfair Labor Practice Charge against the schools’ administration. Apparently Peirano is no longer part of the negotiation team and the talks are reportedly finally moving toward conclusion.
Meanwhile, Rutgers University reached a contact settlement with its faculty in March of this year, but not before “both sides agreed to pare down their negotiating teams and Peirano was eliminated from the bargaining table by the Administration.”
As of result of their relationship with Christie, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter has been mired in controversy in recent years.
For example, as Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal unfolded, Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff and the alleged ringleader in the effort to close lanes onto the George Washington Bridge in order to punish a local mayor retained McElroy, Deutsch’s Walter Timpone. Christie fired Kelly after emails revealed she had played a major role in the bridge situation. Timpone and McElroy, Deutsch later dropped Kelly citing that there was a “conflict” due to the fact that he was one of Christie’s appointees to the Elections Commission.
In another case, McElroy, Deutsch hired Michele Brown, one of Chris Christie’s close friends after she resigned from her job in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2009, “amid a furor over a $46,000 loan she received from him that he did not report on his income tax return or disclosure reports.” About three months after Brown was hired by the firm, Christie hired her as his appointments counsel.
While it is unclear why UConn even thinks it is appropriate to hire outside negotiators, this is hardly the first time that the Malloy administration has retained expensive out-of-state lawyers and consultants to do the work state employees could and should be doing.
Achieve Hartford, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Educators 4 Excellence, Jumoke Academy, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, UConn Capital Prep Charter School, Corporate Education Reform Industry, E4E, Educators 4 Excellence, Jumoke Academy, Neag School of Education, Steve Perry, UConn
Yesterday’s Wait What? post entitled, UConn’s Neag School of Education aligns with faux “Educators 4 Excellence” reform group, reported that UConn’s Neag School of Education had co-sponsored a “happy hour” on April 23, 2015 with the corporate funded education reform group that goes by the name of Educators 4 Excellence (E4E).
However, according to E4E and other sources, the Neag School of Education DID NOT co-sponsor the Educators 4 Excellence event at the Wood N Tap in Hartford that day and that the NEAG School is not, in any way, affiliated with Educators 4 Excellence or its activities.
Those knowledgeable about the event explain that the misunderstanding was due to the fact that E4E posted the following to the NEAG School for Education Facebook page;
“@NeagSchool alums/school teachers are working together with Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the creation of policies that shape our classrooms and careers. They are having a happy hour to discuss the organization and to get feedback from current Hartford teachers. Share your feedback at the discussion: Hartford @WoodNTap, 4/23, 5 p.m.”
Apparently the message was not meant to suggest that the Neag School of Education was sponsoring the event but that students and alumni of the Neag School were individually working with Educators 4 Excellence and that anyone associated with the Neag School of Education was invited to join the April 23rd social, which was being sponsored exclusively by E4E
Part of the confusion may be due to the fact that while the Neag School of Education was not working with E4E on their event, it was, at the very same time, working to publicize an event it was co-sponsoring with another corporate funded education reform group called Achieve Hartford!
Achieve Hartford! is the corporate funded education reform group that is has been at the forefront of the effort to expand the number of charter schools in Hartford, while implementing other aspects of the education reform agenda in the Capital city.
Ironically, at the very time that the E4E Happy Hour was about to begin on April 23, the Neag School of Education tweeted.
Neag School @NeagSchool Apr 23
Neag School retweeted Achieve Hartford!
We’d love for you to join us, 4/29, 4 p.m. @kateschimel @eduflack @CBIANews @Ed4Excellence @conncan @CTedreform
However, please note that the tweet had nothing to do with the E4E event but was merely inviting E4E and other corporate education reform groups in Connecticut to participate in the event that the Neag School was co-hosting with Achieve Hartford! a week later.
Achieve Hartford! has been among the most vocal supporters of Steve Perry, the would-be charter school management company operator who is relying on Governor Malloy to force the Connecticut General Assembly to fund Perry’s plan to open a privately owned, but publicly funded charter school in Bridgeport.
Achieve Hartford! was also an outspoken proponent of the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school enterprise until that charter school chain collapsed amid revelations about the criminal past of its CEO, his lying about his academic credentials and an FBI investigation into the potential misuse of public funds.
Achieve Hartford’s funding comes from a wide variety of individual and corporate sponsors including Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group, ConnCAN, as well as from Teach for America.
Apologies for any confusion that was caused by yesterday’s post.
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A couple of weeks ago nearly 500 students were handed diplomas from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. Most were Connecticut residents and after spending years studying and paying tens of thousands of dollars to get a comprehensive education from a premier teacher preparation program, many are now out looking for teaching jobs in an incredibly difficult job market.
So whatever you do, don’t tell these new UConn graduates that rather than promoting the need for teachers who have acquired the depth of knowledge and skills that comes from attending a true teacher preparation program, their university has aligned itself with a corporate funded education reform front group that is overwhelming made up of teachers who have bypassed all that “teacher prep stuff.”
Although UConn’s Neag School of Education graduation ceremonies were held with great pomp and circumstance, the Neag School’s most profound message to its students and graduates actually came a couple of weeks before graduation day when the Neag School of Education hosted the following;
@NeagSchool alums/school teachers are working together with Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the creation of policies that shape our classrooms and careers. They are having a happy hour to discuss the organization and to get feedback from current Hartford teachers. Share your feedback at the discussion: Hartford @WoodNTap, 4/23, 5 p.m.
Neag School and Educators 4 Excellence…
Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is the corporate funded education reform advocacy group that purports to be “working across the state to provide a more elevated teaching profession and improved student outcomes.”
With chapters in Connecticut, New York, California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Chicago, E4E has collected and spent approximately $20 million over the past three years, money it received from the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation (Walmart) and other major anti-teacher education reform groups. E4E’s mission is to make it seem like real teachers support the corporate education reform industry’s agenda that includes repealing teaching tenure, eliminating the teacher seniority process and promoting the use of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme.
In fact, E4E is one of the leading organizations behind the push to use the unfair Common Core tests as part of the teacher evaluation system.
And perhaps most incredible of all, Educators 4 Excellence is primarily made up of people who simply sidestepped an undergraduate teacher training programing, choosing instead to grab a quick alternative certification before entering the classroom.
In Connecticut, E4E claims to have five teachers staffing their advocacy operation.
However, not a single one of the E4E “educators” attended an undergraduate teacher training program in Connecticut or in any other state. Rather than actually take the time to attend a comprehensive teacher training programs these individuals used the five week Teach For America program to get their teaching certificates.
E4E’s operatives in other states followed a similar path. While a couple picked up a Master’s degree in some education related field, few did the heaving lifting that provides the depth of knowledge that comes with attending a teacher preparation program.
Of the Educators 4 Excellence staff in New York, only two of thirteen bothered to attend an undergraduate teacher training programs.
In Minnesota, the number is zero out of seven.
In Chicago only one of the four E4E staffers attended a teacher training program and in Los Angeles none of the group’s ten staffers attended an undergraduate teacher preparation program.
The E4E message is that “excellence” does not require going to school to become a teacher.
And that is who UConn’s School of Education is joining with…
Yet according to 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Neag School ranks among the top 25 public graduate schools of education in the nation and has three specialty programs ranked in the top 20 nationally: Special Education, Educational Psychology, and Educational Administration & Supervision.
As one of the nation’s “premier education programs,” you’d think UConn would be sending a clear and powerful message that while there is a time and place of alternative routes to certification, students who want to be teachers in the United States should attend a true teacher preparation program in order to get the comprehensive education they will need to succeed in today’s classrooms.
But no, for reasons beyond comprehension, while their own students were busy focused on their studies and taking exams to finish up the semester, UConn’s Neag School of Education was off sponsoring a “happy hour” with a corporate front group whose employees didn’t even bother to attend a teacher preparation program.
For more about E4E and this “work,” check out the following Wait, What? posts;
Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group (4/22/15)
Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT! (5/23/13)
and Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut (12/18/12)
Higher Education, Layoffs, Malloy, State Budget, State Employees, Susan Herbst, UConn Higher Education, layoffs, Malloy, State Budget, State Employees, Susan Herbst, UConn
Updated with statement from UConn spokesperson (see end of blog post)
According to high-ranking UConn administrators, who asked to remain anonymous due to concerns about retaliation, a series of layoff notices will be going out soon to state employees at the University of Connecticut, including unionized employees.
Despite a 6.5 percent increase in tuition and fees that have already been approved for next year, inadequate state support will mean that a significant number of UConn employees will be receiving layoff notices, the first time there have been a substantive number of layoffs at the University in at least 20 years.
The UConn administrators report that the initial round of layoffs will be hitting the School of Law, the School of Social Work and at other major programs at UConn.
Governor Malloy’s record cuts to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education have already been taking a tremendous toll. As the State of Connecticut reduces its state budget support for UConn, the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges, students and their parents are being told they must pay more and get less.
In a related move to cut spending, the Connecticut Board of Regents is blindly rushing to approve a “Transform CSCU 2020” plan that will dramatically diminish the Connecticut State University and Community College System.
The disturbing news of impending layoffs comes on the heels of the decision by Governor Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees to dramatically increase UConn President Susan Herbst’s salary and compensation package.
Voting at a special board meeting on December 29, 2014, the UConn Trustees approved a new compensation package that will push President Herbst’s salary to $831,000 by 2019. Herbst’s new contract increases her salary by 5 percent each year and provides that the UConn Board of Trustees or a committee shall review her salary annually and may increase, but not decrease her compensation package. In addition, Herbst will receive an $80,000-a-year “deferred compensation” payment, along with a $38,000 “supplemental retirement benefit.” The new contract also promises her a $40,000 performance bonus each year and guarantees her two “retention bonuses” totaling $200,000, one in 2016 and one in 2019.
But when the Trustees met at the specially called meeting to approve the UConn President’s new compensation package, they failed to reveal that a plan to layoff state employees at the University of Connecticut was already taking shape.
The news that UConn is facing a massive budget crisis is not news, but the use of layoffs is in stark contrast to Governor Malloy’s campaign message, which was that if re-elected, he would not raise taxes or cut vital services and would not need to engage the State’s public employee unions in any negotiations about concessions.
The state employee unions used that commitment to support a massive political effort that helped Malloy beat his Republican opponent by about 40,000 votes.
Despite Malloy’s rhetoric, state employees, including those at UConn, will be feeling the devastating impact of the projected $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget.
As the CT Mirror reported last March, “The University of Connecticut is facing a $46.2 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — a 4 percent shortfall in the funding needed to continue existing programs.”
The CT Mirror added, “Further tuition increases, cuts to research funding, scaling back financial aid and stalling faculty hiring have not been ruled out to close the gap, a university spokeswoman said.”
According to reports produced by the University of Connecticut, State funding for UConn has decreased by more than $55.3 million a year since Malloy took office.
The Malloy budget cuts take the University of Connecticut back to 1995 when a New York Times article entitled, “UConn Plans Tuition Rise And Layoffs,” reported that, “Tuition at the University of Connecticut will rise 10 percent in 1994-95 and some part-time faculty members will lose their jobs this fall, the school’s trustees have decided.”
The New York Times added, “This is the sixth consecutive year that the university has called for a double-digit tuition increase. Over five years, tuition has doubled and the university has trimmed about one-fifth of its faculty and staff.”
In 1995, the State of Connecticut provided a block grant to the University of Connecticut that covered 32 percent of the University’s total operating budget.
Thanks to Malloy’s on-going cuts, the State of Connecticut’s operating grant now only provides 18.7 percent of UConn’s total operating costs.
It has been twenty years since those disastrous cuts, yet the on-going lack of state support for the University of Connecticut is jeopardizing the quality of the University and putting a UConn education more and more out of reach for Connecticut families.
As noted previous, the result of these constant budget reductions has resulted in a tremendous shift onto the backs of students and their parents. The cost of tuition, room and board for an in-state student has at UConn has gone from $9,784 in 1995 to $23,496 this year.
And now UConn students are being told that although they will need to cough up 6.5 percent more to go to the University of Connecticut next fall, they can expect fewer staff and reduced programs.
In response to a request for a comment, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz issued the following statement, it provides an interesting spin on how the University is going to explain the upcoming cuts.
“At this time, any workforce reductions at the university are very limited in number, affecting very few employees, and are due to reorganizations within a particular office, department, or school, not because of financial need or any reduction in state support.”
19 years after the passage of UConn 2000, the initiative that included the funds to renovate the Torrey Life Sciences Building, The University of Connecticut plans to spend $1 million on a new roof for the building which will then be torn down in the next five to seven years after a new science building is constructed.
The Hartford Courant reported on the latest development yesterday in an article entitled, UConn To Spend $1 Million On Roof Of Building Slated For Demolition. The Hartford Courant story quoted President Susan Herbst,
“It’s not ideal, but people are in there and they’ve got to be safe,” President Susan Herbst said after a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday where the plan was approved.
The Hartford Courant went on to report that UConn’s Master Planner said that there have been 42 instances of reported leaks into the life sciences building since 2011.
The planner was quoted as saying, “Literally, when they did the test on the roof to try to figure out if we could repair, when they dug in to take a sample of the roof material… water squirted out.”
UConn’s Vice provost for academic operations added, “We have some of our best scholars in there and research labs that are active … We need to stabilize the building well enough to keep those labs functioning.”
But looking to a brighter future, the Hartford Courant story reported that,
“UConn’s plan is to replace the aging Torrey building with a $200 million new research center that the university has described as “a keystone” in its $1.5 billion Next Generation Connecticut initiative to develop UConn into a preeminent research university and innovation hub.
The new building is expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.”
So UConn’s Board of Trustees has approved a plan to spend $1 million to repair the roof and will then spend $200 million to build a new building that is expected to open in 2020 or 2021.
However, what UConn officials failed to do was tell the whole story about the Torrey Life Sciences Building and that, unfortunately, leaves Connecticut citizens without some vital pieces of information.
So here is a bit of that back-story
In 1995, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act 95-230, An Act to Enhance the Infrastructure of the University of Connecticut. The program was called “UConn 2000.”
The legislation authorized $1 billion in borrowing and gave UConn the “responsibility and accountability” to use those funds to rebuild, renew and enhance the University of Connecticut.
The legislation included an initial list of projects that were laid out over two phases.
The Torrey Life Science Building was listed as a “Phase II” project meaning that the building was scheduled to be renovated or replaced during the second phase of UConn 2000 or between 2000 and 2005.
As the end of the UConn 2000 program came into sight, the General Assembly passed UConn 21st Century, which borrowed an additional $1.3 billion, giving the University of Connecticut at total of $2.3 billion to spend over the period 1995-2015.
However, serious problems with the way the University of Connecticut implemented UConn 2000 projects led to cost overruns and the need to spend approximately $100 million to repair buildings that had been newly built or renovated with UConn 2000 Funds.
Governor Rell appointed a special UConn 2000 Commission to investigate the problems, a Commission I co-chaired. The Commission determined that the problems were widespread and far more serious than originally reported. At one point, more than 5,000 students were living in dormitories that did not meet state fire codes
The Commission was tasked with the responsibility to recommend policy changes that were later enacted during the 2006 legislative session.
Among the recommendations that were approved was a requirement that the UConn Board of Trustees play a far more active role in the oversight of the UConn 2000/21St Century UConn projects and that UConn and its Board of Trustees be required to provide the governor and general assembly with additional information in their annual reports about the UConn 2000/21st Century UConn projects.
At the time of the Commission’s work, the Torrey Life Sciences Building was listed as a $65 million effort that would be completed prior to 2015.
Two years later, in 2007, the University and its Board of Trustees reported that “Initial programming and project planning is underway for the proposed new Torrey Life Sciences.”
In 2008, UConn reported that the Torrey “project is a replacement facility for the programs in the Torrey Life Science building” and listed short-term renovation costs at about $7 million.
In 2009, UConn reported that, “This project is a replacement facility for the programs in the George Safford Torrey Life Sciences Building. It will include new research and teaching laboratories, classrooms and offices for various biology programs. Due to ongoing planning efforts, the project budget has been revised to reflect program needs for the new buildings. As a result of the reallocation of bond funds, planning for this project is currently on hold.”
But the following year, in 2010, UConn reported that in addition to its previous report, “A design project to repair and replace various roofs at the campus is underway” and that the Torrey building would be one of those buildings.
In 2011, UConn changed direction, or at least its story, reporting that the Torrey project, “Due to ongoing planning efforts, the project budget has been revised to reflect program needs for other new buildings; however, due to a lack of funding, planning will analyze the building’s potential for renovation and a modest research addition.”
And in 2012, UConn updated its approach to the Torrey building reporting, “Due to a lack of sufficient funding, planning efforts have analyzed the building’s potential for renovations rather than replacement. Renovation to a portion of the first floor of Torrey began in spring 2011.” The overall project cost to replace Torrey was increased from $65 million to $85 million.
Then last year, Governor Malloy’s “Next Gen” program authorized another $1.5 billion in borrowing to improve UConn’s buildings and programs and that amount was in addition to the $864 million that Malloy borrowed for UConn’s Bioscience Connecticut Initiative.
So here we are, 19 years after the passage of the UConn 2000 bill and despite the assurance that the Torrey Building would be renovated or replaced by now, the UConn Board of Trustees has approved a plan to spend $1 million to fix the Torrey Building’s roof, but promises that it will soon spend $200 million to build what it describes will be “a keystone” to its next $1.5 billion effort to enhance the University of Connecticut.
And what will be the cost be to taxpayers for the overall program? — $4.6 billion plus interest – or well over $6 billion.
Oh, and while UConn has rebuilt its campuses over the past two decades, as a result of inadequate state funding for UConn’s programs, the cost of attending UConn has increased over 240%
Higher Education, Malloy, State Budget, UConn Higher Education, Malloy, State Budget, UConn
The question IS NOT whether UConn has a major impact on Connecticut’s economy.
An additional issue is whether voters fully understand how UConn spends its public funds. For example, UConn uses student and public funds to subsidize the school’s big-time athletic programs to the tune of about $19 million a year.
Yesterday, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and UConn President Susan Herbst released a $50,000 study, produced by an out-of-state company that reported that that the University of Connecticut “had a $3.4 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2013.”
The University of Connecticut is a public institution of higher education that is dedicated to research, teaching and public service. UConn’s total budget is in excess of $1 billion a year, about 27% of which comes from state funds. It wasn’t that long ago that the state funded almost half of UConn’s budget. UConn is part of the nation’s network of land-grant universities. The concept of land-grant universities originated in the 1860s as a way to target public funds to promote “agricultural and technical educational institutions.”
Putting aside the obvious issue that this publicly-funded study was timed to showcase Malloy during the 2014 gubernatorial election, the bigger question is the governor’s double-standard when it comes to UConn and Connecticut’s other public colleges and universities.
At yesterday’s press conference, Malloy proclaimed,
“It’s important for the people of Connecticut to understand just how vital the University of Connecticut is to economic activity.”
Of course, this statement comes from the very same governor who pushed through the deepest budget cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.
Since becoming governor, Malloy has reduced state support for the University of Connecticut by well over $100 million. (The same pattern of budget cuts has taken place at the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges).
As a direct result of Malloy’s budget cuts to UConn and the other public colleges and universities, the schools have been forced to shift the costs onto the backs of Connecticut’s students and their parents.
Since Malloy took office, the cost of going to UConn has skyrocketed by 20% for students living on campus. As a result of Malloy’s budget cuts, students who commute to UConn or can’t afford to live on campus have seen their tuition and mandatory fees jump by an incredible 28%.
Compounding the problem is the lack of transparency and honesty coming from the Malloy administration and UConn’s Board of Trustees.
The public subsidy of UConn’s athletic programs is just such an example.
When the State of Connecticut built a new stadium in East Hartford and UConn moved to 1-A football, state officials claimed that the move would be lucrative and that within a few years UConn football would be paying for the entire cost of UConn’s athletic programs.
However, according to a 2013 financial report provided to the NCAA, the State of Connecticut and UConn students continue to provide a massive subsidy to UConn’s big-time athletic programs.
Last year, UConn’s athletics program cost in excess of $63.3 million. Incredibly, 29.7% of that money comes from UConn’s Operating Fund which is primarily made up of tax dollars, as well as, UConn student tuition and fees.
While “big time” athletics are certainly part of almost every major university, Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents deserve to know that they are subsiding UConn athletics to the tune of about $19 million a year.
And while having top tier coaches is a vital part of any successful major athletic program, most Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents probably don’t know that UConn’s top four coaches collected in excess of $7.1 million in compensation in 2013 and that nearly a third of that money came directly from students, parents and taxpayers.
The truth is that Connecticut should be proud of the University of Connecticut and the impact UConn has on the state.
And Governor Malloy certainly has the right to highlight the fact that he has put nearly $2 billion on the state’s credit card to build even more new buildings for the University.
But for Governor Malloy to hold a press conference about UConn, without explaining that he implemented historic cuts to UConn’s operating fund, is extremely inappropriate and misleading.
As a direct result of Malloy’s policies, UConn has become more expensive for Connecticut families.
That is certainly something he shouldn’t be proud about.
You can read more about the new study and Malloy’s press conference at:
CTNewsJunkie: New Report Touts UConn’s Impact On State Economy
CT Mirror: UConn touts its economic contribution but touches off a political dustup
Gubernatorial Election 2014, Hartford Courant\, Malloy, Pelto, UConn Gubernatorial Election 2014, Hartford Courant, Malloy, Pelto, UConn
According to today’s Hartford Courant, the University of Connecticut has returned the public stage, again, to claim that no taxpayer or student funds were used to pay for Hillary Clinton’s $251,000 speaking fee, for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s trip to Switzerland and China or for the 7,000 square foot house that the UConn Foundation bought in West Hartford for UConn’s President to use when she didn’t want to drive all the way back to Storrs.
Instead of simply telling the truth and admitting the UConn’s leadership decided, for whatever reason, to help subsidize those expenses, UConn has chosen to lie – again – about how UConn uses the UConn Foundation to funnel public funds to selected activities.
In a Hartford Courant article entitled, UConn Insists: No Taxpayer, Tuition Dollars Funded Hillary – Independent Candidate Pelto Maintains: It’s Not True, the Courant explains;
The University of Connecticut reasserted its position Tuesday that neither taxpayer dollars nor student tuition money were used to pay Hillary Clinton’s $251,250 speaker’s fee.
Nor, the university insists, was taxpayer or tuition money used to pay for a $660,000 12-room house in Hartford’s West End or for the governor’s economic development trips to Davos, Switzerland and China two years ago.
“I think it’s helpful for everyone to have the full information,” Stephanie Reitz, UConn spokeswoman said Tuesday.
But as the Courant also reported,
Pelto maintained Tuesday that it’s “just untrue” that there aren’t taxpayer and tuition dollars involved in paying for an event such as Clinton’s speech. “That money is part of the inherent subsidy of a project like that,” Pelto said.
He said the same is true for “unrestricted” foundation funds spent on other events, such as Malloy’s travel. “The state and the students are paying the foundation to raise money for the university,” Pelto said.
Such events are “to one degree or another subsidized by the public and by these students,” Pelto said, adding that instead of covering Malloy’s travels, the funds could have gone toward a program for students.
You can read UConn’s almost painful effort to spin the story by reading the full Hartford Courant article at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-uconn-foundation-money-0709-20140708,0,2285597.story
The truth is that UConn has transferred about $86 million in taxpayer and student funds to the UConn Foundation over the past ten years. Those dollars were used to pay the UConn Foundation’s overhead including staff, benefits and related development costs.
UConn uses this funding technique to make the UConn Foundation look more successful than it actually is. For example, according to their most recent financial statement, the UConn Foundation spent about $11 million to raise $40 million.
By transferring about $9 million from UConn’s Operating Fund to the UConn Foundation to pay for most of their development costs, the Foundation does not have to tap into the $40 million it raised to pay for its own expenses.
The downside of this tactic is that by paying for the UConn Foundation’s operating costs with public funds, UConn loses the right to claim that the Foundation’s activities are totally private or that those activities are “only paid for with private resources.”
It is not a hard concept to grasp and certainly something UConn should not be lying about.
The truth is that for good or for bad, the public and students are subsidizing the UConn Foundation – this year – to the tune of about $9 million dollars and that $9 million dollars could have been used to expand programs at the University of Connecticut or used to reduce UConn’s decision to raise tuition by 6.5%.
The reality is that the public subsidy of the UConn Foundation means that the public and students ARE helping to cover the costs associated with the UConn Foundation’s $251,000 payment to Hilary Clinton, Malloy’s trips to Switzerland and China, the President’s new house in West Hartford and all the other things that the Foundation spends money on.
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In an article entitled, Hillary Clinton’s UConn Speech Continues to Draw Criticism, the Hartford Courant writes,
Hillary Clinton’s April speech at the University of Connecticut is continuing to spark controversy, with two candidates for governor slamming the school for paying the former senator and secretary of state more than $250,000 for the 30-minute talk.
UConn officials say Clinton’s visit was hosted not by the university but by University of Connecticut Foundation, a private group. The program was funded by a grant from the Fusco family of New Haven, which underwrites speeches by scholars, authors and policymakers.
The UConn foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from private donors for the school in recent years, operates largely in secret: the group is exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information laws.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley and independent candidate Jonathan Pelto both criticized the foundation.
Pelto, a longtime critic of the UConn foundation, said the university’s assertion that no tax dollars were used to fund the Clinton speech is misleading.
“In a long standing deal between the University of Connecticut and its foundation, UConn uses taxpayer and students funds so subsidize the foundation so that it will look more successful,” Pelto said. “This year approximately $9 million will be shifted from UConn’s taxpayer and student-funded Operating Fund to the foundation. To suggest that none of that money helped pay for Hillary Clinton’s fee and visit to UConn is simply wrong.”
“Although Connecticut taxpayers, students and their families are unaware of the deal between UConn and its foundation, more than $86 million in taxpayer and student tuition fees have been given to the UConn Foundation over the past decade. The money has been used to subsidize a variety of activities that shouldn’t utilize public funding such as a 5,000 square-foot house for UConn’s president in West Hartford (even though she has one in Storrs), Governor Malloy’s trip to Davos, Switzerland and China and the $251,000 for Hillary Clinton,” Pelto added.
“It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker,” he added.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was among the Democratic politicians who attended the Clinton speech. A spokesman did not respond to a request seeking comment.
You can read the complete article, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley at: http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/hillary-clintons-uconn-speech-continues-to-draw-criticism/
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Here is the latest on UConn’s payment of $251,000 to Hillary Clinton for speaking on the Storrs Campus earlier this year
Pat Eaton-Rob of the Associated Press writes,
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut on Thursday defended its decision to have former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speak on campus in April for a fee of more than $250,000.
Her April 23 appearance was part of the school’s Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum and was paid for by the UConn Foundation from a donation made by the Fusco family of New Haven.
“No taxpayer or tuition money was involved at all,” said Stephanie Reitz, a school spokeswoman. “It’s unfortunate and unfair to link discussions about college affordability and tuition to the desire of a private donor to have money spent in a particular way.”
The school, which will have a 6.5 percent tuition hike this fall, was criticized on talk radio, in newspapers and on social media after the fee of $251,250 was reported Wednesday by The Washington Post.
Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, an independent candidate for governor and frequent critic of the school, said it is misleading to say no taxpayer money was involved, because UConn subsidizes the private foundation.
He said the speech came at a time when the state is cutting funding to the public school and tuition is rising past the point of affordability for many Connecticut families.
“It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker,” he said.
The foundation said that under terms of the Fusco donation, it cannot legally use that money for anything other than bringing scholars, leaders and policy makers to speak at UConn.
But here is a press release revealing what the University of Connecticut did not explain,
Taxpayer and Tuition Subsidy of UConn Foundation clouds claim that “no tax funds” were used to pay Hillary Clinton $251,000 to speak at UConn.
Jonathan Pelto, the independent Connecticut candidate for governor running under the banner of the new Education and Democracy Party, says that the University of Connecticut’s claim that “No taxpayer dollars” went to support Hillary Clinton’s recent $251,000 speaking fee at UConn is misleading at best.
“In a long standing deal between the University of Connecticut and its foundation, UConn uses taxpayer and students funds to subsidize the foundation so that it will look more successful,” Pelto said. “This year approximately $9 million will be shifted from UConn’s taxpayer and student-funded Operating Fund to the foundation. To suggest that none of that money helped pay for Hillary Clinton’s fee and visit to UConn is simply wrong.”
As the Washington Post revealed yesterday, “At least eight universities, including the University of Connecticut and three other public institutions, have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak on their campuses over the past year…In one previously undisclosed transaction, UConn – which just raised tuition by 6.5 percent – paid $251,250 for Clinton to speak on campus in April. Her fee was underwritten entirely by Edmund Fusco, a New Haven-based developer, and his family, according to Deb Cunningham, interim vice president for communications at the University of Connecticut Foundation.”
“Although Connecticut taxpayers, students and their families are unaware of the deal between UConn and its foundation, more than $86 million in taxpayer and student tuition fees have been given to the UConn Foundation over the past decade. The money has been used to subsidize a variety of activities that shouldn’t utilize public funding such as a 5,000 square-foot house for UConn’s president in West Hartford (even though she has one in Storrs), Governor Malloy’s trip to Davos, Switzerland and China and the $251,000 for Hillary Clinton.”
“The truth is that the Malloy administration’s record cuts to our public colleges and universities has translated into massive tuition increases, which in turn is further burdening Connecticut’s middle class and preventing more and more students from even attending UConn and our other public colleges and universities. It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker.”
You can read the complete AP story in a number of newspapers including: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Clinton-speech-cost-UConn-Foundation-250-000-5597986.php