CUCFA President's Speech to the Regents, July 15, 2009

On July 15th, CUCFA President Robert Meister spoke to the UC Regents during the public comment period. Here is the text of that speech:

You can’t declare a financial emergency today without violating your own rules. Adopting J1 [the power to declare a financial emergency] violates the 30 day notice requirement for amending By-laws (By-law 130). And you can’t adopt J2 [the declaration of emergency itself] without following the stepwise procedure required by J1, which can’t begin until J1 is adopted. Procedural objections were first raised by the Academic Council’s letter (of July 8); we hired a lawyer to find out how bad they are, and now you know.

Your present situation is less like an “emergency” than like GM’s first step toward bankruptcy—a long-term insolvency with no long-term plan to get out Even if you declare an “emergency,”,you can’t simply renew it. You have to decide what business you’re in and then put all your other assets on the line to support that business.

You have no choice about what business to be in: UC is a public trust created for the purpose of public higher education. So, you can’t just say that that there’s no plan to fund UC’s educational mission, and then use your “emergency” power to protect UC’s “genuinely entrepreneurial” activities from being a source of funding for public higher education. [NB UC’s furlough-based approach to pay cuts completely exempts bonuses. In a simple insolvency, bonuses would be on the table before base pay is cut—and should certainly be cut before base pay is cut again .]

Before declaring this emergency, please think hard about the legal and political consequences of renewing it. [ E.g., increased supervision of all UC’s assets and activities, and the use or reversal of UC privatization to support its public mission.] Fortunately, you don’t have to think that hard today. Your own rules prevent you from doing anything until next time.