Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hey Big Spender!

Some things in life are free. For everything else there’s Charles A. Taylor. Wherever he has held a college executive position Taylor seems to leave others with the bill for his lavish tastes.

Community Colleges of Spokane
While chancellor here, Taylor arranged a junket to attend a conference in Africa, although it is not clear what business or educational partnership exists between eastern Washington and west Africa. He took his wife along, because he explained they expect a man to be accompanied by his wife, who has important functions to perform. He got into trouble for having used a college credit card to pay for his wife’s airfare (though with board approval) for $2,000.

In order to rent administrative office space at an offcampus waterfront location, Taylor spent nearly 2 million dollars from a “reserve” fund, an expenditure that was only discovered by the trustees after his departure. The CCS administrative offices were moved off campus into the Riverpoint One building that had been purchased by the CCS Foundation for nearly 9 million dollars. Taylor had assured the trustees that state money and cash from the CCS budget wouldn’t be used to maintain the building, but he didn’t say anything about using the reserve funds. When Taylor had proposed moving CCS offices to Riverpoint One he claimed that other tenants would pay the rent for CCS.

Trustees there had given him a $15,000 bonus shortly before they fired him.

After Taylor was fired from CCS, Taylor’s successor David Habura had to reduce administrative costs and services to the three CCS entities in order to recover the money. According to Habura “To the best of my knowledge and by all indicators, the trustees were not aware of the situation and are as dismayed as I am”. Habura also said that CCS was facing over three quarters of a million dollar deficit at the end of the fiscal year. Included in that deficit was a half million dollar rent bill for the new Riverpoint One office space, a $200,000 cost overrun from moving into that building, $70,000 for marketing, and $36,000 in other expenses.

Peralta Community College
After being fired at Spokane, his arrival at Peralta was expensive and controversial. According to Will Harper in the East Bay Express, Taylor followed a notorious figure who had been fired by the Peralta Board, named Ronald Temple. Harper wrote that you “can only hope the board of trustees negotiates a better deal with the next chancellor it hires. It is troubling, though, that a leading candidate to replace Temple as interim chancellor is a guy Temple brought in himself upon the recommendation of CampusWorks, the consulting firm founded by an ex-con and Temple associate. He is Charles Taylor, who came to Peralta last May to serve as the interim vice chancellor for administration and finance. And in typical free-spending Peralta fashion, the district paid $18,000 back then for its new interim vice chancellor to permanently move to the Bay Area from Washington”.

While at Peralta, Charles Taylor oversaw a major construction project. Because of his mismanagement, change orders for the project cost the college half a million dollars, only discovered after Taylor left, according to a report to the Peralta board of trustees made by Peralta General Services Director Sadiq Ikharo (reported by Berkeley Daily Press).

Current Activities
The expenses that he wanted to make for his inauguration at his current employment included extravagant printing costs and other items that at least one planner objected to. His insistence on a full color Presidents Newsletter and annual report (featuring numerous photographs of him prominently) is another luxury, as well as metal pins with the new college logo and other PR giveaway items. An expenseive “rebranding” campaign required the production of new media and print materials, such as stationery, business cards, name tags, and the like. The recent cancellation of the employees award banquet required the college to pay a penalty. He is also reportedly the defendant in a federal employment suit associated with his presidency at the college though it is not clear if there is a civil monetary suit involved.

Recent reports by several campus sources say that Charles Taylor requested the installation of a shower in his executive suite that would of cost $30,000. Fortunately, somebody got smart and called the Virginia employee fraud, abuse, and waste hotline to put an end to that little home improvement. However, it is reported that the construction estimate was expensive.

The college is also planning to purchase an off campus office building where it is currently renting office and classroom space (maybe to move all its executives?) and has just broken ground for a building for a second campus in Williamsburg.

Then there’s the VP bunch. Student enrollments have grown under the Taylor presidency and so have the number of Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents, and recently a first ever Provost, and they are very expensive. These include a Vice President for Academic Affairs, a Vice President for Student Affairs, a Vice President for Finance and Administration, a Vice President for Information Technology, a Vice President for Institutional Advancement, a Vice President for Workforce Development, a Provost for the new campus in Williamsburg, and a Special Assistant to the President. There are six Associate Vice Presidents. They pull down the biggest salaries in a college and they each require secretaries (top dog Taylor has two secretaries Flagstiffed has been told).

But despite huge enrollment increases in the past ten years and increases in the number of Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents, the number of fulltime faculty has not increased by much, as reported by several of Flagstiff’s readers. Administration is more important than teaching, they say.

This information has been provided by current and former employees.

Somehow, it doesn’t add up.

Want to find out more? Suggested reading:

Audit finds CCS erred by ‘loaning’ state credit, by Virginia de Leon, Spokesman Review, June 22, 2001
Settlements Drain CCS, Taxpayers, by Virginia de Leon, The Spokane Spokesman-Review, September 30, 2001
CCS Finds Reserves Depleted, by Virginia de Leon, The Spokesman-Review, November 8, 2001
Who’s to blame by Pia K Hansen, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, November 8, 2001
Report of Whistleblower Investigation, CCS, #01-133, May 22, 2001
Chancellor’s windfall, severance hangover, by Will Harper, East Bay Express, March 5, 2003.
New Vista College Campus on Track for 2006, Berkley Daily Planet, April 26, 2005

Friday, May 11, 2007

Legal Notice

One of Flagstiffs readers took the desparate meassure of contacting state officials. According to this readers posting this is what the state official wrote:

I don't know how you got my name, but I'm actually glad you did. I serve as System Counsel and Assistant Attorney General to the Virginia Community College System. It's not often that someone will be as bold as you by publishing defamatory remarks directly to a lawyer. It's clear you don't have a clue about how local board members are chosen and your false statements,which you are using in an attempt to malign Chancellor DuBois' character, could be actionable as defamation per se. This is a warning to you to cease and desist with passing on such false information not only about Dr. DuBois, but also about Dr. Taylor. If you do not, be aware that the VCCS will consider taking legal action. You're not as anonymous as you think you are.

Rita R. Woltz
System Counsel
Virginia Community College System
(804) 819-4906

Flagstiff does not know if this message was in fact written and sent by the person named. However Flagstiff would never on purpose encourage or permit violations of civial or criminal law. This website is for the purpose of providing published facts that may help college employees understand there current situation. The public forum that allows readers to post comments is not there for defamatory remarks. Just the facts, m'am. No names, please. Protect yourself.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. --U.S. Constitution

Defamation and libel

In law, defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation.

In many, though not all, legal systems, statements presented as fact must be false to be defamatory. Proving a defamatory statement to be true is often the best defense against a prosecution for libel. Statements of opinion that cannot be proven true or false will likely need to apply some other kind of defense.

In most legal systems the courts give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant. In criminal law, he or she is presumed innocent until the prosecution can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; whereas in civil law, he or she is presumed innocent until the plaintiff can show liability on a balance of probabilities. However, the common law of libel contains a kind of reverse-onus feature: a defamatory statement is presumed to be false unless the defendant can prove its truth. In New York Times v Sullivan (376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710 (1964)), the United States Supreme Court changed this traditional feature of the common law with respect to public figures, and ruled that in cases where a public figure was libelled the burden of proof would be on the libeled person (the plaintiff).

Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries.

This is because the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives strong protection to freedom of expression, which arose from the tradition of dissent in the American Revolution. For most of the history of the United States, constitutional protections of freedom of speech had no impact on the traditional common law of defamation inherited from the English legal system. This changed with the landmark 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, in which the Supreme Court of the United States announced constitutional restrictions to state defamation law. The court held that where a public official was defamed, the plaintiff had to prove not just that an untruthful statement was made, but also that it was made with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth. The "actual malice" standard was subsequently extended to public figures in general, and even to private figure plaintiffs seeking punitive or presumptive damages.

Defamation per se

All states except Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee recognize some categories of statements are considered to be defamatory per se, such that people making a defamation claim for these statements do not need to prove that the statement was defamatory. In the common law tradition, damages for such statements are presumed and do not have to be proven. Traditionally, these per se defamatory statements include:

* Allegations or imputations "injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession"
* Allegations or imputations "of loathsome disease" (historically leprosy and sexually transmitted disease, now also including mental illness)
* Allegations or imputations of "unchastity" (usually only in unmarried people and sometimes only in women)
* Allegations or imputations of criminal activity (sometimes only crimes of moral turpitude)


State of Virginia Department of Accounts Employee Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New Contest: Find a New Excuse for the Deficit

Just in time for the weekend. Our faithful reader Marge Inavera has suggested another weekend contest: Find the college administration a new excuse for the deficit.

The administration has already offereed several different versions of why there's an almost million dollar deficit (uncollected receivables, the incompetence of previous administrations, too many students) and we're sure that we're going to see more.

So lets help the college administration out with new explanations. Click on the headline above to post your anonymous submissions.

Marge suggests this one to get things started: In this Star Trek episode, Klingons have invaded the college and plundered its bank account. You can alwys blame Klingons. Make it so.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Half-Million Dollar Baby: Questionable Fiscal Management

According to published reports, Charles A. Taylor was abruptly fired as chancellor of the Community Colleges of Spokane where his management prompted numerous former employees to file discrimination law suits, resulting in nearly half a million dollars awarded to the former employees (at taxpayers’ expense, none from Taylor’s pocket).

After his dismissal, the board of trustees discovered that a reserve account of nearly $2 million had been drained to less than $200,000 by the time of his departure. Most of that was spent on the rental of office space in a new office building, the downtown Riverpoint One, a waterfront property along the Spokane River.

The board also claimed that Taylor had not told them about other financial decisions, such as purchasing (for half a million dollars) a student registration and book ordering system . . . that didn’t work.

Taylor frequently likes to depict himself as the object of unfair scrutiny and biased oversight. For example, after an audit revealed an irregularity in which he used a Community Colleges of Spokane charge card to pay for his wife’s airfare (nearly $2,000) on a “business” trip that he was making to Africa, he was quoted as saying “I’ve been under more scrutiny than any other CEO for doing the same types of travel or making the same administrative decisions.” After being summarily fired from the Community Colleges of Spokane, Taylor characterized the dismissal as “absolutely unfair.” The inability to admit his own management blunders seems to characterize his executive employment. It’s always somebody else’s fault or the result of bias against him.

After he left Peralta Community College District in Oakland, California (to become president of a community colllege in Virginia) the Berkeley Daily Planet reported that a construction project that Taylor had overseen required numerous change orders that were the result of his mismanagement.

Peralta General Services Director Sadiq Ikharo told the Peralta Board of Trustees that a little over half a million dollars had been spent for “change orders” on the $65 million Vista project. Vista College President Judy Walters told the trustees that she would present them with a package of new requested “change orders” and blamed the need for those changes on former Peralta chief operating officer Charles A. Taylor, who she said “cut off communications between Vista [the college] and Ratcliff [construction project designers Ratcliff Architects] in November of 2003. We knew back then that these changes were needed but for whatever reason, Charles Taylor told Vista representatives they couldn’t talk to the architects.”

There has never been evidence of deliberate fraud, but a pattern of fiscal problems is alarming.


Want to find out more? Further reading:
  • Audit finds CCS erred by ‘loaning’ state credit, by Virginia de Leon, Spokesman Review, June 22, 2001
  • Settlements Drain CCS, Taxpayers, The Spokane Spokesman-Review, September 30, 2001
  • CCS Finds Reserves Depleted, The Spokesman-Review, November 8, 2001
  • Who’s to blame by Pia K Hansen, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, November 8, 2001
  • Report of Whistleblower Investigation, CCS, #01-133, May 22, 2001
  • CCS leaders’ spending outpaces WSU, EWU by Virginia de Leon, Spokesman Review, February 1, 2002
  • New Vista College Campus on Track for 2006, Berkley Daily Planet, April 26, 2005

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Va Employee Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline

The Virginia Employee Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline



The State Employee Hotline is a toll free telephone number available Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Calls to this number are anonymous and non-traceable.

Types of Fraud To Report

* Illegal or Fraudulent Conduct
* Waste of Funds
* Abuse of State Property or Resources
* Gross Mismanagement
* Gross Neglect of Duty

Who Can Call The State Employee Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline?

Significant instances of fraud, waste, and abuse may be reported to the Hotline by any classified, at-will, contract, part-time, or full-time state employee.

What Happens When You Call The Hotline?

You should have the following information available when you call:

* Circumstances of the incident.
* The agency and the subject(s) involved.
* Identify any evidence that is available.
* Identify any available documentation and location.
* Dates, times, names, places.
* Credible witnesses.
* In essence, the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how often factual information

How Are Callers Protected?

You will never be asked to provide your name when you call the Hotline, nor is your call traceable. There should never be an attempt on anyone's part to try to identify the caller. Or, if someone is suspected of calling the Hotline or if the caller is found out, there can be no retaliation or retribution. If there is, it is a violation of policy and the Executive Order and we take it seriously in order to protect the integrity and credibility of the Hotline. Retaliation against anyone for calling the Hotline is also reportable through the grievance process.

What Should Be Reported And What Should Not Be Reported?

The State Employee Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline is designed to report significant instances of fraud, waste, and abuse that may occur in Executive Branch Agencies. The Hotline is reserved for reporting:

* Illegal or Fraudulent Conduct
* Waste of Funds
* Abuse of State Property or Resources
* Gross Mismanagement
* Gross Neglect of Duty

What Is Considered To Be Fraud, Waste, Or Abuse?

The intentional deception perpetrated by an individual or individuals, or an organization or organizations, either internal or external to state government, which could result in a tangible or intangible benefit to themselves, others, or the Commonwealth or could cause detriment to others or the Commonwealth. Fraud includes a false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading statements, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive.

The intentional or unintentional, thoughtless or careless expenditure, consumption, mismanagement, use, or squandering of Commonwealth resources to the detriment or potential detriment of the Commonwealth. Waste also includes incurring unnecessary costs as a result of inefficient or ineffective practices, systems, or controls.

Excessive or improper use of a thing, or to employ something in a manner contrary to the natural or legal rules for its use. Intentional destruction, diversion, manipulation, misapplication, maltreatment, or misuse of Commonwealth resources. Extravagant or excessive use as to abuse one’s position or authority. Abuse can occur in financial or non-financial settings.