It’s A Lot Easier To Fire Bob Mann Than The LSU Board…

…and perhaps that idea will get some consideration.

Mann, whose serial jackassery in the pages of the Times-Picayune is a frequent source of amusement and/or consternation, has now called for the entire LSU Board of Supervisors to resign over the racking up of some $140,000 in fines by refusing to comply with an order by Judge Janice Clark of the 19th Judicial District Court to turn over a list of candidates for the job of university and system president ultimately filled by F. King Alexander.

We’ve discussed Clark’s histrionics over the case in previous posts, and the rather blatant injustice associated with her demand that those records be turned over prior to LSU’s having exhausted all of its appeals – when the release of the records, or the prevention of same, is the outcome of the case. LSU refused to turn over the records in advance of that appeal, and Clark did everything she could to force them to do so – imposing fines, finding the Board in contempt of court, threatening jail time and even sending East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies to the LSU System building to rifle through files looking for them without success.

The whole thing became a rather comic spectacle, before – lo and behold – a deal was cut. LSU agreed to turn the records over to Clark, so long as she agreed not to make them public until the appeals were exhausted.

Which is a quite reasonable compromise. LSU’s reason for not wanting to release the records has to do with preserving the integrity of its hiring processes – when an institution like LSU attempts to make a high-profile hire, it usually would prefer to steal a high-profile candidate from another high-profile job. Those candidates will want whatever discussions they might have with LSU to remain secret so as not to damage their reputations or current job security. Therefore, strict adherence to state laws on transparency in hiring processes is quite counterproductive and LSU does what it can to get around them.

And when LSU finagled its way out of conducting a true public search in advance of hiring Alexander for the presidential job, it was slapped with open-records actions by both the LSU Reveille and the state’s two major newspapers. The Reveille suit was in front of 19th JDC judge Tim Kelley, who dismissed it. But the other suit, pushed by the Baton Rouge Advocate and New Orleans Times-Picayune, landed in Clark’s courtroom. Clark being a Southern University alumna and a not-so-secret critic of LSU, a different outcome was had.

The deal at least gives Clark the knowledge that she forced LSU to turn loose the records, but it preserves the substance of LSU’s appeal and therefore its due process rights. Given that he’s employed by LSU, you’d think that Mann would have some degree of affinity for those due process rights. And you’d think he’d respect that members of LSU’s board would want to have the ability to hire the best possible people to lead the institution.

Legally, LSU might well be wrong. As a practical matter, trying to get around a state law which makes it more difficult to hire the best people for high-profile job openings is prudent practice. As such, LSU hired a search consultant who did all the work and sent back a sole recommendation that the university hire Alexander, making him the only official candidate for the job.

That didn’t satisfy the papers, and it obviously doesn’t satisfy Mann. So today we got this…

While it’s too early to say for sure that the fines will survive the appeals process, shouldn’t the board members at least tell us where they might find the money for the fines?

State or foundation funds are the most likely sources, of course. But should such money be used for that purpose, it would spark a firestorm of criticism that might draw Gov. Bobby Jindal into the mess. There is no way Jindal can stand by and allow his board to spend public money on contempt of court fines.

The only other source for payment that immediately comes to mind is also the most appropriate: LSU Board members should each pay a proportional share of the fines and fees from their own bank accounts.

Were you to conduct a poll on this question, I have no doubt that more than 90 percent of the public would object to any taxpayer funds being used to pay fines assessed for the board’s illegal actions. Few people would condone spending taking money meant for students — especially at a time of budget cuts and austerity — and giving it to a state court, media organizations and lawyers.

You would expect that a public body that gave a flip about the public would have already assured us that no public funds will be tapped to pay the fines. These board members, however, won’t do that, because, short of being tossed into jail, they’ll never acknowledge their personal responsibility in this sordid and embarrassing mess.

Yet, simply paying the fines from their own bank accounts is no longer enough.

The LSU Board’s arrogance has already inflicted irreparable damage to the university’s image and reputation. They should pay for that, too.

It’s interesting that Bob Mann, who from his perch at LSU’s journalism school offers up a steady stream of partisan hackery making a mockery of the concept of objectivity, is suddenly concerned with appearances and LSU’s image. Just sayin.’

It’s also interesting that in Bob Mann’s capacity as a writer at the Times-Picayune he doesn’t have a problem with filing a suit which would cost LSU money in legal fees and other costs, but does have a problem with LSU, which pays his salary, attempting to defend its own interests in court and therefore incurring those costs.

One would imagine that given Mann’s affiliation with both plaintiff and defendant in the case, he might find the more prudent course to be to keep his trap shut.

That’s not his style, for which we probably should thank him. He at least gives us something to talk about.

That’s true, incidentally, of the LSU Board and Alexander, who might want to re-examine exactly how much value Bob Mann actually has to LSU given what he writes at the Picayune and on his blog.



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