Monday, June 27, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way from the Board Meeting

So a funny thing happened on the way to the Board meeting Thursday. In response to my esteemed colleague Corday’s question about the intention of the Board, I can report that two interesting things happened. One I will report here and the other I will convey in a subsequent post.
After about four hours of executive session, the Board reconvened to inform the remaining attendees that they had no action to take in open session. That’s right loyal readers, no termination of the financial exigency, no notification of any large donations, no comment on the termination of academic programs. Nothing but a move to public and employee comment. One commenter, Ray Violetto, spoke very directly about the no-confidence vote that was held by the employees of the University Police Department.
Two local news outlets covered this:

By way of context, let’s recap how the police department got to its current condition. In late 2014 the former chief announced his retirement. He was then allowed to sit on the search committee for the new chief. In my humble estimation that is at best unprofessional and at worst unethical. That he had a previous professional relationship with the successful candidate is even more disturbing. Watson, in fact, is said to have announced the selection of Ms Walsh prior to the search committee being formed. That is an indicator that the search was flawed and the appointment fixed. It is Chicago after all so I am not surprised.
Some officers I spoke to were hopeful that Watson’s replacement would do something to repair the damage done by Watson & Watson (dba Dewey, Cheatem & Howe), namely the shooting by the police chief of a university guest and her dog, the theft of a police car assigned to the chief that was later used in a drive by shooting, and his reportedly frequent absence due to golfing commitments.
That hope was quickly dashed as it became apparent that the new chief was but a subordinate to the former chief who continued to give direction to the department after his departure. The inept reorganization of the police department which has led to complaints filed with the Civil Service Merit Board, was effected on her watch. This reorganization was apparently done with no objection by the chief. The groundless demotion of civil service employees by the Management Action Committee, none of whom have law enforcement experience or expertise, has damaged more than just the morale of the entire department, it has endangered the safety of the university community. And for the status quo apologists, the laughable excuse of “financial exigency” is no longer viable. The requirements of policing do not diminish because a third of the university’s work force was let go or because three buildings were shuttered for the summer. The university community, which for an urban university includes the surrounding community, must be patrolled. Any absence of executive leadership will have a damaging effect on the day to day operations.
The most troubling aspect of revealing police department business is the revealing of police department business. Law enforcement agencies are prohibited by law from striking, even though they tend to be unionized and any overt political activity is also prohibited. Police departments work diligently not to be involved in the politics of the communities that they police. The CSU Police Department is no different. So for the long serving members of this department to take an action like this and get 100% participation should be the indicator of how dysfunctional the university is and how needed a purge of the Watson residue, including his Board cronies,  is. This action, probably more than a “few disgruntled faculty”, indicates what a failure Watson and his cronies have been.
At institutions that function effectively, the Chief would tender her resignation for the good of the department and thus the good of the university. Even if her reported failures were untrue, the perception of 100% of her subordinates is that she has failed and should now do the right thing, which clearly isn’t the CSU or Chicago thing.
I can attest to the frustration of working in a situation where executive leadership is absent. It is disheartening to come to work knowing that no leadership will be shown and the organization will continue to spiral into chaos and further dysfunction.
Cadaverous may have been a charitable characterization by Corday in the previous post. However, the community is waiting for action from the board. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

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