Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cafero calls for Kennedy to step down

State House Republican Leader Larry Cafero is calling for Robert Kennedy, the embattled president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, to step down,  in the wake of revelations over “secretive pay hikes for staff members,” “threatened dismissals of community college presidents” and “a previously undisclosed six-week leave from his office last summer.”

"Given the developments over the last two weeks, I believe it is in the best interests of the thousands of students that rely on our state's higher education system, and those who are responsible to taxpayers for how it is administered, that President Kennedy tender his resignation," Cafero said in a release issued Thursday.

Cafero also renewed his call for a public inquiry by the Higher Education Committee into the recent controversies that have called into question the leadership of the newly merged college system.

Cafero said three separate incidents over the last two weeks led to his decision to call for Kennedy’s dismissal:

According to reports, a member of Kennedy's central office told the 12 community college presidents they had until Oct. 31 to accept early "buy-out" proposals or face dismissal by June of 2013. Conflicting allegations and accusations followed, leading to a chaotic situation.

Kennedy reportedly approved $250,000 in undisclosed pay increases for his staff members without Board of Regents approval as required by state law, including a $49,000 hike for Executive Vice President Michael Meotti. The Meotti pay hike was rescinded after it became public.

On Wednesday Kennedy, in response to a reporter’s question, said that he spent six weeks away from his office last summer, “working remotely” at his Minnesota vacation home.

"I have never been one to jump to conclusions when it comes to allegations that affect someone's livelihood," Cafero said. "But I think we have ample evidence that warrants a change in the leadership of state college system.”



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