Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Can't Pat Quinn Just Do It?--Laura Washington

And one more article in case you haven't seen this one...

The Washington Report written by the Sun Times' Laura Washington (Oct. 19, 2009)

Just do it.
Gov. Pat Quinn plans to appoint new board trustees at Chicago State University “with all deliberate speed.” Chicago Sun-Times, May 11

“The governor’s senior staff has been working with all deliberate speed to ensure that the vacancies on the board are filled. Staff members have spoken with the faculty senate and alumni to assist in the search for strong candidates for the board.” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 25

“Quinn’s press secretary, Bob Reed, says … the governor is close to filling vacancies.” Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 18

For months, Gov. Pat Quinn has been ignoring the debacle at Chicago State University. For months, he has failed to fill longtime vacancies on the board of a school in desperate need of quality leadership. Why can’t he “just do it?” My take: Quinn is afraid of some black folks and doesn’t care enough about others.

For the last couple of years, under the the previous administration of President Elnora Daniel—and the Chicago State Board of Trustees—the university has been roiled by highly critical financial audits, charges of gross corruption and mismanagement, a disintegrating physical plant, and plummeting enrollment. The school suffers a miserable 16.2 percent six-year graduation rate. Last month the Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago State “is at risk of losing its accreditation” by the Higher Learning Commission. The agency cited its “remarkably poor” graduation and retention rates, and its chaotic leadership and finances.

On Saturday, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin reported a new lawsuit that “pours fresh gasoline on the matter.” The suit against the university and its trustees, comes from two former Chicago State administrators who were fired earlier this year. One alleges her dismissal “coincided with the board’s awarding of no-bid, short-term public relations and marketing consulting contracts” to two politically connected operatives, Marin reported. Another claims he was fired after he reported inappropriate board activities to the state’s executive inspector general and the auditor general.

As of this posting, Chicago State officials have not commented on the specifics of the lawsuit.

It’s not Quinn’s fault that the school is a disaster area, but he has the power to help it heal. Last spring, the school was rocked with controversy when students, faculty and staff launched a campus revolt against the board’s flawed search for a new chancellor, which culminated in the April 29 appointment of Wayne Watson as Chicago State’s new president. Critics said the was infected by “insider politics” and urged Quinn to intervene, halt the selection process and replace the board, which included several lame-duck trustees and vacancies.

Illinois law provides that the Quinn can remove gubernatorial appointees “for incompetence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance.” Quinn refused to step in.

If you have had a heartbeat over the last few months, you’ll know that the governor didn’t hesitate to leap into the case of the University of Illinois’ “clout-list” scandal. Last summer, egged on by screaming headlines in the Tribune, Quinn pushed out and replaced the university’s board of trustees.

With all due respect to the U of I, there are other schools with more urgent needs. Chicago State, an underesourced stepchild of the Illinois educational system, serves a predominantly African American, working class population. Many of its 7,000 students are the products of the Chicago Public Schools, and we know where that leaves them on the opportunity quotient.
Why the double standard? Why can’t Mr. Reform, the self-proclaimed champion of the disenfranchised, “just do it?”

Marin has a few other good questions about our accidental governor: “With the February primary fast approaching, is Quinn reluctant to jeopardize African-American support?” Marin wrote. “Is that why he backed down and kept the only two African-American trustees on the U. of I. board. And hasn’t jumped in to challenge the CSU board?”

Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

It seems that Quinn cares more about Tribune’s editorial page and the heavyweight interests at the University of Illinois than he does about a crucial but beleaguered black institution on Chicago’s far South Side. He is loathe to offend the politically connected black big shots like Watson and the Rev. Leon Finney, the chair of Chicago State’s Board of Trustees. Quinn’s press secretary, Bob Reed, told Marin that is not the case, and assures his boss is “close” to filling the slots.

Why can’t he just do it? As reader James Reyes opined at “They don’t call him ‘Quivering Quinn’ for nothing.”

1 comment:

  1. I strongly recommend that everyone reading this blog scroll down to the comment section under Laura Washington's post that is linked to in this story and read the open letter by Haki R. Madhubuti, one of our distinguished colleagues. I was deeply moved, and I hope that this open letter is read by the entire CSU community.