Three views on Overtimegate:

10/20/2010: I’m posting 3 comments from readers on President Lariviere’s decision to encourage managers to use overtime work to compensate staff for pay lost to the state mandated furlough, and ensure that the work of UO got done despite the furlough.  Thank you all for these thoughtful comments. I know this blog gets petty and whiny at times. It seems that’s my fault – its readers are neither.

From a reader “with some political experience”:

The recent flare up over the overtime issue for classified staff is a good example of what’s wrong with state leadership and government, rather than what is wrong with the UO. The UO absorbed disproportionately large cuts of millions of dollars in state support, but rather than limiting admissions and reducing access to classes, as happened in California, we managed to take in an even larger freshman class, sustain access to classes, as well as to expand need-based financial aid to ensure college access for all qualified Oregon students.

The efficiencies that enabled us to serve even more students with even less state aid were enabled by extraordinary efforts by both faculty and staff. The decision to recognize the contributions of classified staff, our lowest-paid employees, by allowing their approved overtime hours to offset arbitrary furloughs, when specifically justified by work needs, cost the state nothing and helped to serve the needs of thousands of students. The argument that the issue is one of public perception, not the substance, is well, clueless.

Increasingly, voters appear to see through the façade of the political melodrama associated with artificial, temporary, and counterproductive ‘crocodile tear’ cuts.  These have made no sustained difference in the past to the increasing gap between state expenditures and revenues.

In my opinion, the governor and his aides missed an opportunity to distinguish budget tricks from real decisions and effective leadership. I hope in whatever way most effective, our campus supports and defends our President.

I completely mostly agree with this statement. But this comment on it makes some good points too:

I find the rationalizations for “Overtimegate” to be somewhat self-serving, arrogant, and, well, “clueless.” The overtime has been justified, sort of, on the grounds that it was necessary to get the job done. Plausible, but I still wonder how the other campuses managed, without, apparently, flouting the will of the Governor? But mainly, the justification for the overtime has been linked to the staff in question being “our most vulnerable colleagues” (Lariviere) and “lowest-paid employees” (politically experienced reader). Which is it, sympathy for our supposedly underpaid union staff – try selling that to the public! – or the need to get the job done?

In any case, however justified or unjustified the overtime was, the Governor did order the furloughs. Perhaps “the [G]overnor and his aides missed an opportunity to distinguish budget tricks from real decisions and effective leadership.” But Kulongoski is, well, the elected Governor. Unlike our reader or even Dr. Lariviere. If the latter think they are so much better qualified, perhaps they should be running this election cycle?

At the very least, Lariviere chose to pull an end-run around the governance of the state. If he believed the overtime to be so essential and well-justified, why didn’t he just announce what he was doing up front? Now it appears, because it very likely is true, that he chose to try to pull a fast one on the state. And now, not surprisingly, he has been found out, it must be said, UO Matters style.

It will be interesting to see how this plays in public opinion, and not just on campus, where we are called upon to support “our President.” (And telling that our President merits a cap while our governor does not.) I hope this doesn’t cause major trouble for UO, for the autonomy plan, and I hope it doesn’t result in Lariviere’s departure. But I think things stand on slightly shaky ground right now. 

For the record, UO Matters had nothing to do with the Nigel Jaquiss story. Mr. Jaquiss is obviously capable of getting public records on his own. But, of course, someone told him what to ask for.  Probably someone at OUS. And it seems the OUS public records custodian, Ryan Hagemann, promptly produced the public records. Try getting that kind of service from Hagemann when Pernsteiner wants the document kept secret. It will take months and an order from the Attorney General.

And another reader posts:

As a UO classified staff member who was, shall we say, close to the bargaining process last year, I’d like to point out some things that apparently are not known, or perhaps conveniently forgotten, by those who are critical of Lariviere’s decision and the negative feedback the “outing” has drawn.

This was never about overtime, or doing an end run around the governor. This overtime plan was all about trying to mitigate a gross inequity that developed when, as a result of the SEIU bargaining agreement, the classified staff was the only group of employees who were obligated to take furlough time at UO. Those invoking the “will of the governor” are conveniently forgetting that he ordered furloughs for ALL state employees. So how come there’s been no complaining that Lariviere flaunted the will of the governor by not imposing furlough days on faculty and administrators? As a matter of fact, the governor had no authority to “order” furlough days for union-represented staff – that had to be bargained. The union agreed to the furloughs in the spirit of the shared sacrifice called for by tbe governor – even though we were thoroughly convinced ahead of time that there would be no such shared sacrifice at UO.

As you can imagine, this bothered the hell out of your classified staff members, but it also troubled Lariviere. He’s no fool – he knew any attempt to circumvent the furloughs would be political dynamite, but then again he also recognized how explosive an issue it could be for campus staff if such an inequity was left to stand. The overtime “solution” was seen as the only viable way to potentially mitigate the inequitable situation on this campus without violating the union contract. It’s a far from perfect solution for a no-win situation, and maybe Lariviere’s rationalization for the overtime seems clumsy and unjustifiable, but the bottom line is he saw an injustice and had the integrity and guts to try to do something about it. It’s true he didn’t broadcast this policy far and wide, but it’s been no secret; we were never told to keep it quiet.

Oh, and those other campuses, how are they getting by without this policy? Well, there IS overtime being worked by some classified staff, just not as a result of a semi-formal policy. And except for at SOU, the other campuses are now co-conspirators in thumbing their noses at the will of the governor. While most (but not all) campuses did mandate furlough days or pay reductions for faculty (where not unionized) and for administrators, except for at SOU those have now been rescinded. Not for classified staff, however. (Or the campus presidents, I should add.) The union recently asked OUS to reopen the contract to renegotiate the furlough days in light of this development, but OUS refused. For political reasons, no doubt.

For certain, this flap will not be helpful in advancing Lariviere’s new governance plan. But I also have to concede that it’s a great argument for the need for it.

Oregon Commentator on Binge

10/19/2010: The Oregon Commentator has been on a binge. Alex Tomchak Scott is publishing daily updates of UO relevant stories, with commentary. Very popular at Johnson Hall, I hear. They also published the best yet inside view of the recent riots, by Russ Coyle (p 18). Their proposed solution? Lower the drinking age to 16. This is their solution to everything, but it makes more sense than giving UO cops guns. To top it off, a serious article on Gutenberg College on University Street (P 16) by Sophie Lawhead. I’d always wondered about Gutenberg was about – great books.

your missing subsidy assignment

10/19/2010: Today the RG prints a story on the Lariviere overtime kerfuffle and Pernsteiner’s attempt to get Lariviere to toe the OUS line on his UO restructuring plan. This is a week after Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week did the hard work getting the audit reports and emails for the stories, and only after the Oregonian has already written an editorial on the overtime.

The RG *still* has not even mentioned the Oregonian story on the annual $2 million UO subsidies for the jock box, or Provost Bean’s op-ed attempting to justify using student tuition and tax revenue to pay those costs. In combination these have nearly 200 comments on OregonLive. To the RG the debate on UO subsidizing athletics simply does not exist!

A few weeks ago the Register Guard editorial board admitted Dave Frohnmayer and Pat Kilkenny had fooled them with their claims that Matt Court would be a moneymaker. But the RG is still refusing to cover the real issues at UO. UO would be a much stronger institution if the administrators knew their decisions were going to get thoroughly aired in public. The RG simply is not doing its job on this.

OUS minutes – fat chance

10/18/2010: Wondering what was on the agenda of the 10/8 OUS Board meeting? Try here. All kinds of interesting things related to the Bellotti payoff, new regulations for how Pernsteiner will rule all the university presidents, an internal audit report on UO, etc.

Wondering what sort of debate there was, or what decisions the board made? Too bad. Ryan J. Hagemann, Legal Counsel and Secretary of the Board, has not posted OUS minutes online since Dec 1, 2006. 

We have made a public records request for these, under the new rules promulgated by AG John Kroger. Wish us luck.

Oregonian on Lariviere’s overtime

10/18/2010: From the Oregonian editorial board, not from me:

University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere is asking the Legislature to allow him to run the university as he sees fit, freed from the stifling edicts applied to the rest of state government. It looks now like Lariviere chose not to wait for an answer.

When Gov. Ted Kulongoski ordered state agencies — including the university system — to require their workers to take furlough days, Lariviere apparently approved a plan to allow as many as 1,000 UO employees to offset the lost furlough hours with overtime hours, according to documents obtained by Willamette Week.  

We’ve been impressed with Lariviere’s bold vision and aggressive leadership at the UO. But this was a misstep, one he may come to regret when the Legislature finally takes up the question of the independence he seeks.

Provost Bean on the jock box subsidy

10/15/2010: Provost Jim Bean’s Oregonian op-ed today is an attempt to refute reporter Rachel Bachman’s story in the Oregonian from last week, here:

Oregon athletic department uses state money for academic needs despite claims of self-sufficiency

Ducks athletes have received $8.5 million in general fund benefits in nine years while tuition has nearly doubled, state support to UO has shriveled and athletic department donations have soared.

Provost Bean’s Op-Ed in the Oregonian starts:

An Oct. 8 story in The Oregonian incorrectly concluded that the UO’s use of general fund money on academic support for student-athletes in some way invalidates the university’s pledge to maintain an economically self-sufficient athletic department.

Step one is admitting there is a problem. So far as I can tell,  this is the first time in recent memory UO has admitted it uses general fund money – i.e. money from state taxpayers and from student tuition – for athletics. The rest of the piece is a tortured attempt to argue this is not a subsidy for the athletics department. Of course it is. Does anyone believe this particular subsidy is the only one that reporters are going to find?

Ms Bachman’s article has an amazing number of comments. I strongly suggest not reading them. Bean’s article has also attracted a few, don’t read those either.

ODE sports columnist opposes brain damage

10/15/2010: A courageous UO student journalist decides to kill chances of ever getting a job in sports, points out:

… long term brain damage is more likely the result of hundreds of sub-concussive collisions. According to a recent ESPN.com article, “Studies have shown a first-string college football player in a given year experiences between 800 and 1,500 blows to the head of a G-force greater than 20. That’s the equivalent of about a 20-mph car crash each time.”… It’s bad enough college football players don’t get fairly compensated for putting their bodies on the line every Saturday. (Do you really think Kenjon Barner’s scholarship and monthly stipend is adequate payment for the thousands upon thousands of calendars sold at the Duck Store that bear his likeness? Or for being a part of the product that will sell a multi-million dollar TV rights deal next winter? Please.) But to put the health of 20-year-old amateur athletes, most of whom will begin a career off the gridiron once their college career ends, in jeopardy … for a game? That’s just abusive. …

It’s not just a game. Coach needs a new $20.4 million contract real bad.

Compare this tough piece to the pablum RG reporter Rob Moseley printed on this incident.

political heat for Lariviere for doing the right thing by the UO staff

10/13/2010: This article by Nigel Jaquiss below is one UO story I would really rather have not seen in the newspaper. For one thing it’s full of mistakes. For another it attacks the UO staff without any justification. This situation is not their fault, or Lariviere’s fault. It’s Kulongoski’s fault for going for cheap political advantage, on the backs of people making $12 an hour.

There are a lot of things that make me skeptical of Lariviere’s re-structuring plan – like having no idea what we are committing to and no voting faculty representation on the board. Not to mention giving veto power over the deal that finally will emerge from the legislative back rooms to Phil Knight, but not to the faculty. But to me this story is one big argument in favor of it. Kudos to Lariviere for doing the hard thing and the right thing for the underpaid UO staff by doing what he could to protect them from this stupid money wasting furlough plan. Damn the consequences.*  FWIW, here are some quotes from the story written by Nigel Jaquiss in Willamette Week. His words and sentiment, definitely not mine:

Gov. Ted Kulongoski hammered University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere last week for creating a pay system at the school that flouts budget cuts hitting other state employees.
The politically charged dispute between the outgoing governor and the new UO president surfaced in documents WW obtained via public records request. Those documents show that rather than instructing UO staffers to take furlough days like other state employees, Lariviere approved a setup that allowed as many as 1,000 of those UO employees to replace state-mandated furlough hours with overtime hours. So, while other public employees took pay cuts due to furloughs, some university employees got paid the same amount—for doing less work.
“We were concerned to learn of the use of overtime to offset the furloughs for classified employees at the University of Oregon,” Tim Nesbitt, Kulongoski’s chief of staff, wrote in an Oct. 1 letter to Lariviere. (About 8 percent of the university’s 20,000 full-time employees are “classified” SEIU Local 503 union workers who perform various clerical and support functions.)


Patricia Snopkowski, the Oregon University System’s auditor, did a preliminary review of overtime expenditures at all seven OUS campuses for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. She found that, rather than declining, overtime costs at UO increased 30 percent, from $593,000 to $772,000.
UO’s overtime increase is small in the context of the $53 million UO expects to get from the state in 2010-11 (about 7 percent of its budget). But memos show Larivere ordered his top administrators to deliberately circumvent state directives to cut costs. …
And there’s a second level to the dispute: The less-work-for-the-same-pay edict coincides with the university’s push to reduce state oversight. But Nesbitt warned Lariviere that his approach to employee overtime could have larger ramifications. “This is more than a compliance issue,” Nesbitt wrote. “It is a policy issue, and a politically charged one at that.” …

* Yes, I know that the real consequence will be that underpaid faculty like me and underpaid OAs will get screwed out of raises for a few more years, while Lariviere’s got a very sweet contract already.

But just ask yourself what would Frohnmayer have done in this situation? He would have taken another raise for himself and then asked staff, faculty, and students to pay for it. Remember his furlough plan?

more randy geller public records docs

10/12/2010: From the DOJ archives of their public records orders, on cases Randy Geller was involved in while serving as Melinda Grier’s Deputy General Counsel.

01/04/2006 – January 4, 2006 Daniel J. Stotter Bromley Newton LLP …Jan 4, 2006 … As noted above, Randolph Geller, on behalf of the University, responded to the WTC … c: Randolph Geller, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs.

www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/stotter_01042006.pdf
October 16, 2006 Susan Davis Success for All Foundation 200 W …
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Oct 16, 2006 … Geller denied the request as to messages to and from Drs. Simmons and … On September 9, 2006, Mr. Geller sent Ms. Sattler several pages of …
www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/davis_10162006.pdf

July 30, 2007 Jill Aho Oregon Daily Emerald PO Box 3159 Eugene, OR …
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Jul 30, 2007 … Mr. Geller has explained that the reasons for Mr. McIntyre’s … As described to us by Mr. Geller, the discipline imposed arose from conduct …
www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/aho_07302007.pdf

October 23, 2006 Daniel J. Stotter, Attorney at Law 541 Willamette …
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Oct 23, 2006… it will cost approximately $1661.06 to respond to your client’s request for records. Letter from Deputy General Counsel Randolph Geller, …
www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/stotter_10232006.pdf

At MSU, Athletics Chips In for Faculty Bonuses

10/12/2010: From Libby Sander in the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

For four straight years, faculty members at Mississippi State University have gone without merit pay raises. This year, for some, a financial boost came from an unlikely source: the athletics department. Last week, 406 faculty members—nearly a third of the university’s full-time teachers—received bonuses of $2,500 each. The awards were backed by $750,000 from the Bulldogs’ annual share of the Southeastern Conference’s lucrative TV deal. In all, thanks to matching funds provided by donors, roughly $2-million has been set aside, with half for the faculty bonuses and half for student scholarships. …

It’s not unusual for major athletics programs to give a portion of their revenues to academics: This year, for instance, the University of Georgia’s athletics program donated $2-million to support professorships and scholarships. Mississippi State’s athletics budget, at $37-million, is roughly half that of Georgia’s—and is the smallest in the Southeastern Conference.

Kentucky also does this – $1.7 million for need-based scholarships last year. Oregon?

insidehighered on athletic subsidies

10/11/2010: From Insidehighered.com, a succinct summary of Rachel Bachman’s Oregonian article:

U. of Oregon Disputed on Claim of Athletic Self-Sufficiency

The University of Oregon has asserted that it has one of the few big-time athletic programs that are self-sufficient. But an article in The Oregonian revealed that about $8.5 million from the university’s general funds has been used to pay for academic support for athletes over the last nine years. University officials said that they viewed that spending as appropriate, but the article noted that other universities that claim self-sufficiency pay for such academic support from athletic funds.

As of 10/12/2010, the “poll” in the Oregonian article shows this:

add the lottery money, the arena garage, the $1 jock box land giveaway, …

10/8/2010: UO athletics brings in about $70 million. They pay about $14 million to the coaches and the AD. This is not enough for them, so they want the regular students and the taxpayers to write a blank check for the jock box operations – about $2 million this year. To top it off, they want to claim they are self-supporting, so that people don’t ask tough questions.

With her latest reporting, Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian is not making it easy for them. There are now over 100 comments. It’s surprising and disappointing to see Provost Jim Bean quoted as favoring this subsidy. He should be fighting for the academic side. Someone in our administration needs to:

For the better part of a decade, University of Oregon officials have touted the athletic department’s economic self-sufficiency, a rarity in the world of big-time college sports. But for at least nine years, athletics has used hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the university’s general fund to cover the cost of academic support for athletes, according to files obtained by The Oregonian.

The general fund has paid nearly $8.5 million over the past nine years for academic support for athletes, which includes exclusive tutoring and counseling, increasing sixfold from less than $300,000 in 2002-03 to a budgeted $1.8 million this academic year. …

Jim Bean, Oregon’s senior vice president and provost, who also oversees academic support for athletes, said it is appropriate for the university to pay for academic support for athletes, and honest for the school to maintain that athletics is self-sufficient despite that support. 

“I actually insist that that be funded from the academic side to make sure that we have the right academic control,” said Bean, who oversees academic support for athletes.

Bean said that because a large majority of Oregon athletes come from out of state, the athletic department pays more tuition for them on average than the average non-athlete student pays, effectively offsetting the cost of athletes’ academic support.

But that is not how two other prominent athletic departments who claim self-sufficiency operate. The University of Michigan and the University of Kentucky pay out-of-state tuition for out-of-state athletes, spokesmen said. This year they will use athletic funds to pay $1.5 million and $1.8 million, respectively, for academic support for athletes, with heads of those support programs reporting jointly to an academic leader and to the school’s athletic director. …

At the recent faculty leadership meeting I asked Rob Mullens if he had any plans to start using athletic department revenues to fund need-based student scholarships, as he had done at Kentucky. He just stared at me. Whoops, I thought, my bad, I get it. You only did that at Kentucky because the president there told you you had to. So President Lariviere must have told you …