10 Reasons Why Cal State Chair Carter Must Go

Commentary

FEB. 23, 2012

By JOHN HRABE

Herbert Carter’s reconfirmation as the chairman of the California State University Board of Trustees could be taken up by the State Senate as early as today, Feb. 23. Cal State University lobbyists have been in and out of state Senate offices all week in a desperate attempt to secure two Republican votes for the embattled chair. The lobbying offensive hasn’t been very successful. On Wednesday, February 22, Senator Mark Wyland, R-Escondido, became the third Senator to formally oppose Carter’s confirmation.

Claudia Keith, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs at California State University, recently pointed out to CalWatchDog.com that legislators aren’t the best educated bunch. “I doubt any legislator has to have a Ph.D. or Ed.D., 20-plus years of experience, and are required to raise a million dollars a week toward a fundraising campaign for an institution,” she wrote via email. Here at CalWatchDog.com, we don’t necessarily share Ms. Keith’s views about legislators’ intellects. Nevertheless, we’ve made it easier for legislators to understand Carter’s failed record by assembling the “Top Ten Reasons Why Carter Must Go.”

1. 2011 Cal State Executive Compensation Scandal: College Execs Make More than Private Sector.

Under Carter’s tenure as chair, Cal State University presidents make an average base salary of more than $300,000 per year. That’s more than the base salary for private-sector executives, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Just like the private sector, CSU executives are entitled to additional perks and benefits. Every Cal State president receives up to $60,000 per year in a housing allowance and $12,000 per year for a car. According to data from the Cal State University Chancellor’s office, the average Cal State president receives a total compensation package worth $372,000 per year. These outrageous salaries have been provided while faculty take furlough days and students pay higher tuition fees.

2. 1990 Cal State Executive Compensation Scandal: Carter’s Role in the First Pay Scandal.

More than two decades ago, the California State University system was involved in a similar executive compensation scandal. Then and now, Herbert Carter played a central role in the controversy. In March 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Greg Lucas reported that Chancellor Ann Reynolds was grilled by legislators “over hefty salary increases she gave herself and 26 other top executives in the California State University system.”  When State Senator Nicholas Petris, D-Oakland, tried to ask Reynolds about the salary hikes, “Reynolds stood up, took a seat in the audience and directed her second-in-command, Herbert Carter, to answer the questions.”

Carter was well qualified to discuss the salary increases because he was one of the lucky 26 recipients of pay hikes. He received a $31,026 raise; his annual salary increased from $118,974 to $150,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, Carter’s 26 percent salary increase was the highest of the six vice chancellors and better than the average 17 percent raise given to 20 campus presidents.

The raises “were implemented without public hearings or a vote of the CSU board of trustees.” Carter defended the secrecy telling the Chronicle, “The process is fair and legal.”

3. Carter and Trustees Gave Sweetheart Tenured Professorship to Disgraced Executive.

Secrecy and no-bid contracts have been a common occurrence during Carter’s Cal State career. In 2006, former Chancellor Barry Munitz was awarded a $163,776 annual salary to “teach one English course and perform other duties” at CSU Los Angeles. John Travis, then president of the California Faculty Association, criticized the “lavish salary.” He told the  San Francisco Chronicle’s Jim Doyle, “It appears that the agreement to retain and pay Mr. Munitz at a higher salary than any other faculty member was reached between the (CSU Board of) Trustees and Mr. Munitz without public input, or disclosure, in violation of the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act.”

Munitz was free for the CSU position because he’d just resigned as president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The New York Times reported, “Mr. Munitz, whose travel and expense spending were being investigated by the California attorney general’s office, was required to repay the trust $250,000 and was not given a severance package.”

Clara Potes-Fellow, a CSU spokeswoman, agreed that “Munitz’s executive compensation package was not publicly discussed recently by the CSU’s Board of Trustees.” In 2008, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that the sweetheart deal did not technically violate open meeting laws because it was a personnel decision.

4. The Cal State Executive Transition Program: Secret Windfall for Top Executives.

Following the Munitz controversy, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jim Doyle dug deeper into the Cal State’s executive compensation system. Sandra Fried, a consultant to the Assembly Higher Education Committee, summarized the Chronicle’s investigation in a bill analysis: “In July 2006, the San Francisco Chronicle published a series of articles about transition compensation provided to former CSU executives who were leaving their positions, revealing previously secret compensation packages that included transition pay, professorships and special benefits.”

The Cal State system operated a CSU Executive Transition Program, which provided departing employees with “a full year’s pay without specified duties.” Another special benefit given to CSU executives was a special position known as a “trustee professorship.” On his official biography on the CSU website, Carter lists his position as a “Trustee Professor” from 1995-1998.

For the full story, read Doyle’s outstanding investigation, which is available here.

5. Cal State Blocks Open Meeting and Public Disclosure Legislation: “We simply cannot trust the CSU Board of Trustees to reform itself.”

In 2007, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, proposed legislation to bring accountability to the Cal State Board of Trustees. AB 1413 would have prevented secret agreements, added ex-officio Trustees appointed by the Legislature, ended ghost professorships, and required public disclosure of employee compensation. The Cal State system successfully lobbied Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the bill.

Reacting to Schwarzenegger’s veto, California Faculty Association president Lillian Taiz predicted, “Without this bill, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed will be able to continue his destructive practice of padding the pockets of wealthy administrators at the expense of students, faculty, staff and the university as a whole.” Given the recent executive pay scandal, Taiz’s prediction seems to have come true. Portantino was equally prescient, “We simply cannot trust the CSU Board of Trustees to reform itself.”

6. $2 Million for Cal State Trustee’s “Secret Lobbying Corps.”

It wasn’t easy for the Cal State system to defeat AB 1413. The Cal State system needed the help of multi-million-dollar lobbying contracts to persuade the governor. Once again, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jim Doyle had the scoop: “In the last decade, the university system has paid more than $2 million in public funds to two Sacramento lobbying firms — Capitol Advocacy LLC, and Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates — to influence the policies and budget decisions of the governor and state lawmakers…. Nearly $400,000 of those funds were paid to the two lobbying firms during months of the year when the firms performed no services for the CSU system regarding administrative or legislative actions, state records show.”

These multi-million dollar contracts were funded entirely by taxpayers. Trent Hager, chief of staff to Assemblyman Portantino, said that the lobbyists were responsible for defeating AB 1413. Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles, said that the responsibility for the “secret lobbying corps” rested with the Board of Trustees. She said, “This is the time for Chancellor Reed and the Board of Trustees to pull the plug on this secret lobbying corps, this secret force. There is no need for these lobbyists. There is no need for us to spend this money.”

7. Carter’s Tenure: Era of Tuition Increases.

To pay for the million-dollar Sacramento lobbyists, the Cal State Board of Trustees has filled its coffers with annual double-digit tuition increases. In November 2011, Carter was among the nine trustees to approve a 9 percent tuition increase on the system’s 409,000 students.  Since 2004, Carter’s first year on the board, tuition has increased from $2,334 per year to just under $6,000 for the upcoming 2012-13 academic term.

8. Carter Canceled Cal State Board Meeting to Hide from Outraged Public.

Carter allowed the vote to raise student fees in Nov. 2011 to occur behind closed doors, which led to charges from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom that it violated the spirit of the Brown Act. “While I understand the CSU leadership’s concerns regarding public safety, the spirit of open deliberations has been marred by the events of November 16, 2011,” Newsom wrote. “This issue is simply too important to not allow for a full and thorough discussion. Otherwise, we contribute to the perception that this process is anything less than open and transparent.”

Then, Carter affirmed his fear of the public by canceling the Trustees’ Dec. 5 meeting. “We made this decision based upon our experience at the last board meeting where a large number of protestors attended, which is difficult to manage under the best of circumstances,” Carter said in the Nov. 30 press release. Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, seized on Carter’s meeting cancelation to host “a free-ranging discussion on ways to ensure every Californian has access to our system of higher learning.”

9. Carter Authored Cal State’s Phony Pay Cap.

Portantino’s admonition, “We simply cannot trust the CSU Board of Trustees to reform itself,” is proving true once again with the Board of Trustees’ newest scam, a phony compensation cap. This past January, the board approved a new compensation policy after public outcry following the trustees’ approval of a $400,000 annual salary for San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman. CSU spokesman Erik Fallis recently told the Daily 49er, Cal State Long Beach’s student newspaper, “Carter is the one who recommended the change in policy.”

Maybe that’s why the policy is filled with clever loopholes. The carefully-worded cap allows the board to continue its controversial policy of supplementing executive pay through university foundations. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, San Jose State’s Mohammad H. Qayoum, San Diego State’s Hirshman and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Jeffrey Armstrong currently receive foundation bonuses ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has seen through the Cal State’s phony pay cap from the start. “While I am pleased to see CSU Board of Trustees finally recognize that their past executive compensation practices were completely unacceptable, their new policy just doesn’t go far enough,” Yee said.  “Those making hundreds of thousands of dollars should not receive double-digit pay increases during bad budget times or when students are forced to foot the bill.”

10. Carter: Career CSU Bureaucrat Who Can’t Claim Ignorance.

Carter has been involved with the California State University (CSU) System in one capacity on and off over the last 37 years. Carter is the consummate Cal State insider. He has no credibility to plead ignorance to board policies, procedures or past scandals.  His positions with the Cal State system have included:

* 1974-78 — System-wide Affirmative Action Officer;

* 1978-83 — Assistant Executive Vice Chancellor;

* 1983-87 — Vice Chancellor Administration;

* 1987-92 — Executive Vice Chancellor;

* 1995-98 — Trustee Professor;

* 1998-99 — Acting President, CSU Dominguez Hills;

* 1999-01 — Special Consultant, CSU;

* 2004-09 — Member, CSU Board of Trustees;

* 2009-present — Chairman, CSU Board of Trustees.

“Since 1984, Herbert Carter has been near the center of every CSU pay hike scandal,” said Senator Joel Anderson, R-Santee, the first official to publicly oppose Carter’s confirmation. “With my ‘no’ vote I intend to send a clear message to the students, parents, and taxpayers we deserve better from higher education than skyrocketing tuition, poor planning, and little oversight.”

5 comments

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  1. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 23 February, 2012, 08:16

    “Claudia Keith, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs at California State University, recently pointed out to CalWatchDog.com that legislators aren’t the best educated bunch. ‘I doubt any legislator has to have a Ph.D. or Ed.D., 20-plus years of experience, and are required to raise a million dollars a week toward a fundraising campaign for an institution,’ she wrote via email.

    What arrogance consumes these academics. I’m hardly a partisan for our legislators, but they actually are elected to oversee every dollar spent by the state government. And why is there an “Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs” at Cal State? She’s just a PR hack.

    This is another reason to completely reform the Cal State systems, where there are more adminstrators than professors.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 23 February, 2012, 22:43

    An Ed.D is the biggest joke in academia.

    Reply this comment
  3. Larry Stirling
    Larry Stirling 24 February, 2012, 07:45

    Sorry, but you missed the top reason for cleaning up CSU.

    The last I checked, the four-year graduation rate for my alma mater, SDSU, was a whopping FOURTEEN PERCENT.

    They may have boosted it recently but did so only by lowering the bar as they have taken no other corrective action.

    The primary reasons for the low graduation rate is sweetheart deals for unqualified students; unavailability of classess because professors are not required to teach enough; and the need of the CSU to pay for grim dormatories and unappealing commons, and to provide ticket-buying “fans” for its marginal sports complex.

    CSU has morphed from primarily an upper-division-student professional system to a high-school remediation project more concerned about revenues and perks than the future of young Californians.

    As one former CSU chancellor is reliably quoted saying: “We will cope with the budget problem by enrolling eveyrone we can and then daring the legislature to do anything about it.”

    Thank you Joel Anderson for accepting the dare.

    Larry Stirling

    Reply this comment
  4. Erik Smitt
    Erik Smitt 24 February, 2012, 11:22

    Obviously there is something wrong at the CSU board. The leadership has failed. It is time that they were replaced; there are better people at a lower cost who will be accountable to the public and the students.

    Reply this comment
  5. Fubar
    Fubar 25 February, 2012, 13:16

    Dante’s Inferno describes insincere, obsequious flatterers grovelling in excrement in the second pit of the eighth circle of hell (sycophants).

    The end result of institutional corruption of State Capitalism? Socialism for rich people.

    The CSU was hijacked by corrupt leaders many years ago, and they quickly adopted the sleazy mode of the corporate world, AS THEIR MASTERS WISHED.

    This individual appears to have been in charge of Affirmative Action (race preferences/quotas) in the CSU system in the 70s? If you research the origins of fascism, you will see that all Fascist leaders start off on the Left.

    A simple test of organizational integrity fails when applied to the CSU system: what are the internal and external structures and processes that ensure accountability? There is an internal culture that is hostile to deep, profound self-examination as to the manner in which the public is served by the CSU system. Little attention is paid to research on the pertinent topics related to accountability. Few traditions exist that would reinforce a culture of integrity and accountability. For instance, former CSUS President Donald Gerth, a historian, wrote a scholarly history of the CSU System a few years ago that revealed a few tidbits about origins of the prevailing sleaze, and it has been almost completely ignored. There is no Center for Ethical Integrity Research in the CSU, and if there was, it would have been hijacked and run sycophants.

    M. Scott Peck wrote a book titled “People of the Lie” that explains how psychopaths/liars rise to power. Many other books/articles have been written explaining why evil forms of organizational culture flourish, and how corruption keeps scams going.

    Students, Faculty and Employees are being victimized and exploited by executives at the CSU Chancellor’s Office and by members of the Board of Trustees. “Whistleblower” laws are largely meaningless, most employees that complain about malfeasance are attacked, sometimes viciously, by corrupt HR departments and power-crazed managers (who thereby demonstrate their willingness to conform to the corrupt status quo). Union representation is usually ineffective because the union leaders have hijacked the unions for political reasons, and they refuse to tell their members how the unions run their own part of the corrupt scam (fearing deep reforms and populist backlash).

    The word “Trust” in “Trustee” is utterly absent in reality (with a few exceptions), the Board should be renamed “Board of Liars and Psychopaths Whose Existence Is Driven By Greed and Ego Gratification”. (shortened to “BOLAPWEIDBGAEG”)

    I can recall many articles about corrupt CSU Trustees over the years who have abused power, both D’s and R’s (both “progressives” and conservatives), specifically the leadership tier.

    Also, there was another “PR” scandal from the CSU Chancellor’s Office several years ago. This was during a newspaper investigation of lavish travel perks for an IT executive at the CSU (who was being sent to international Peoplesoft/Oracle conferences and put up in $300/day fancy hotels). One of the “PR hacks” at the Chancellor’s Office “accidentally” sent a rude and inappropriate email to a reporter at a local newspaper (in Orange county?). A suitably meaningless “apology” was later issued once the matter was made public. The message basically said that reporters had no business asking for access to public information under the laws of California! The arrogance and creepiness of many of the people at the CO is only matched by their lack of attention to their real duties and responsibilities.

    The CSU system was hijacked by corrupt people with agendas that are at odds with the original populist vision of public higher education. The values of the classical liberal tradition have been cast aside by fakes and slick opportunists operating behind a veil of bureaucratic obscurantism.

    As documented by Professor Glen Custred during the CSU “Cornerstones” controversy in the 1990s, similar to most of Higher Education in the the USA, the CSU has been taken over by people funded, trained by and linked into quasi-secret pro-Corporate think tanks. These corrupt interests have created an atmosphere of financial aid scandals (probably linked to the bank scandals that almost wrecked the world economy) and they have brainwashed much of the public into a false set of ideas about the value of a college degree that leaves the country very ill prepared to respond to globalization in a meaningful way. Indeed, universities are complicit in immigrations scams that funnel low-paid and exploited immigrant workers to tech companies in the USA, resulting in the loss of jobs once held by american workers with degrees from the CSU!

    The legislature and past governors appointed these ridiculous clowns to the Board of Trustees (probably in exchange for corrupt political favors elsewhere), they are the reason that the system is rife with lack of accountability.

    The reason that the CSU system is burdened by corruption is because the politics of both major parties in the California are corrupt, and because the people of the state refuse to do the work necessary to participate in the process of populist democracy.

    Corrupt public education has “enabled” the idea that “experts” and “social engineering programs” will take care of society. !!!WRONG!!!

    As a result, corruption and special interests prevail.

    What is needed is a populist movement to clean up the corruption in higher education. In California, a referendum/initiative needs to be put on the ballot to change whatever state laws/regulations/policies currently exist that keep corrupt people on the CSU Board of Trustees and in the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

    If new leadership and real accountability is put in place, then the arduous task of cleaning up the vast mess that has been created at mid and low levels in the CSU bureaucracy can begin.

    The whole system stinks to high heaven.

    A fleet of garbage trucks needs to be sent in to take out the trash.

    Reply this comment

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