Thursday, May 14, 2009

They're playing Monopoly around UA stadium

"THE BOARD IS FRUSTRATED. There's real concern over this.  But the only person who can take him out is the governor."

And so it is with the University of Akron Trustees who are now uncomfortably stranded on an academic island with board member Atty. Jack Morrison.  "It's a real conundrum," a trustee told me, sort of apologetically, "not only for the board but for the University's reputation as well."

Well, at this point my advice to the trustees is, Get used to it.  Jack Morrison isn't listening to appeals that  he step down  from the board.   However, he did give up his chairmanship of the finance, fiscal policy and investment committee.   

Should you need a little more information on this fellow, whose case  has been rehashed in the media more than once, he is under indictment for seven misdemeanors on ethics charges  involving his alleged interest in his son's purchase of property on land the University had intended to buy around a new football stadium.  Let's get more specific:

According to a response to Morrison's lawyer for continuances on pretrial and trial dates, the bipartisan Ohio Ethics  Commission investigation  has advised the court of the paper trail turned up by its lawyers that revealed much more than Morrison has been willing to admit. 

"Since 2005," the Commission lawyers wrote, "defendant has provided his son and/or Braymor Development (his son's development company) with a total investment of at least $156,400 to support his son's real estate ventures   in the University area..."

There's more in the same document:
  • The son, Jack, Jr. "began buying property in the University of Akron area on Dec. 29, 2005."
  • By June 2007, he owned 19 properties in the University area. By February 2008, he owned "24 worth nearly $1 million."
  •  Finally, Dad never revealed that he had "an overall and continuing series of investments in his son's property acquisition and rehabilitation business over more than two years."
  • Had enough?   And so there is an old  house still standing near the new stadium that UA had offered to buy for $75,000 but is frozen in place as the five- month-old case drags on. The least that Morrison could do is to respect the sensitivities of the University and his fellow-trustees and find some investments elsewhere  to keep  him busy in the meantime. 
And while we're on the subject of the Board of Trustees, I do find it curious that the board's work is managed by two vice presidents, one reporting to the other.   I refer to Ted Mallo, vice president and general counsel  and board secretary....and Russell D. Sibert, another vice president,  of board operations,  and assistant secretary to Mallo.  Sibert clocks in at $150,748, Mallo at $194, 123.   In these lean economic times, particularly for higher education,  I'm sure there's someone who can justify having two vice presidents elbow to elbow for nearly $345,000.  But until somebody tells me, I won't know, will I?  




Anonymous said...

Blogspotters: Be sure to see the comment on Abe's May 11 posting about Morrison. "Anonymous" (not me) in that comment (who sounds like an attorney) details five reasons why Morrison may be convicted.

Anonymous said...

Of importance in the State's response is Morrison's failure to cooperate with the Ethics Commission leading them ultimately to subpoena information. His failure to cooperate is what has led to his predicament. He pushed the Ethics Commission into fishing out for information. The more he stonewalled, the more likely it seems intentional. With the head of the Ethics Commission personally handling the case, I cannot venture how Morrison and his cohorts can view this as a small deal. Arguing that it is a Democrat-Republican issue will not win him this case. He is between a rock and a hard place. And speaking of "rocks," I suspect more issues await Jack Morrison in the future.

Anonymous said...

Seibert-Mallo cost more than $345,000. Mallo retired in 2005with 35 years of STRS service and eligibility to draw a pension of about 87% of his final average salary--figure at least $140K added to his current salary (as a retiree rehired) of $194,123. So, actual State of Ohio cost of insulating the trustees from the rest of the campus? About half a million dollars. BTW, the VP/architect is a retiree rehired, too.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. What a wicked web we weave. I suspect it is more than just a stubborn trustee that may be keeping him from resigning. Could it be the chair of a certain party that is? Time will tell on this one, and other pending cases as well.

Anonymous said...

A quick note and another piece of the puzzle. Jack Morrison's term on the University of Akron's Board of Trustees began in 2005 according to the University's website.

His son's investment in the area blueprint in..... late 2005.