Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UA: Two out of three falls one short

THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON today shed two of its more prominent staff problems, but still faces a third challenge. First, the good news: UA's Board of Trustees accepted the resignations of John Case and Reno Ferri. Case was the vice president and chief financial officer who was arrested by Macedonia police in September and charged with drunk driving after other drivers spotted his car weaving in the road. It was his second encounter with the law. In February, 2006, he was found slumped over his wheel in traffic. He pleaded no contest when the charge was reduced to reckless operation. After his latest run-in with the law, he was placed on leave at full salary of $242, 625. The resignation will be effective in February.

Reno Ferri was UA's football running backs coach and recruiting coordinator who had been on administrative leave after the NCAA turned up some recruiting violations.

The still unresolved problem is Jack Morrison, the UA trustee who was convicted of two ethics violations in connection with the construction of UA's new football stadium. Although he has been asked to resign by state officials and the Akron Beacon Journal, Morrison has shown no interest in budging. And his lawyer insisted it will stay that way because his convictions are being appealed - a process that could take another six months.

As I've mentioned before, the Morrison issue is being played out along strictly partisan lines. If Morrison, a Republican insider and outsider, resigned, it would give the Democrats an extra opportunity to replace him with an appointee from their party . (The current split is 5-4 Republican, although that's a stretch. Although trustee Ann Amer Brennan is listed as a Democrat, it hardly identifies her true political tilt to the GOP). Actually, the Board is powerless to remove Morrison from its midst even though it would come as a relief to the other trustees if he voluntarily stepped down to remove himself as a major distraction.

Obviously, where political considerations are involved, the University's mission is of secondary importance. A trustee told me today that there was no doubt that Morrison and Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff have a common goal of holding on to the seat.
"I wish we could have had three resignations, but we didn't," the trustee sighed after today's meeting. "I know there are others who feel the same way."

And I'll bet you thought that universities operate for the sole benefit of advancing the knowledge of the students. Think again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Arshinkoff has even managed to politicize a nonpaying job in this county. I could see fighting to keep the BOE job because it pays and offers OPERS, but I do not believe the UA Trustee position offers pay. Getting him out from the BOE will be a much easier step to take than getting out of UA. Simply, he is finished at the BOE. Brunner has an ethics policy, he agreed to it fully aware of the consequences, he broke provisions of it, he's gone pending an administrative hearing. Party has no recourse as none is overtly mentioned in the law.

The goal for Alex Arshinkoff, Jack Morrison, Paul Adamson, and Tom Houlihan(his attorney from Amer Cunningham handling the appeal) will be to drag this thing out as long as possible until the next election. A Kasich win means this all goes away regardless of his conviction-Alex will work on that aspect with his new buddy John Kasich. Simply, Morrison and his attorneys don't point to people in any hurry to resolve this situation quickly. He should hope nothing else comes up.