Editorial: After audit debacle, fire UC President Napolitano
|| San Jose Mercury News
“For the good of the University of California system, it’s time for President Janet Napolitano to go.
When a state audit revealed in April that her office was sitting on $175 million of undisclosed reserves, we sharply criticized her, but stopped short of calling for her firing.
But now an independent report released last week shows how Napolitano and top assistants interfered with that audit to try to ensure her office was cast in a positive light.
Despite her public mea culpa, Napolitano doesn’t fully own responsibility for her serious transgressions. The buck stops at the top. Not at her two senior assistants, who recently resigned.
The Office of the President should be run to better the UC system, not to protect Napolitano’s reputation.
UC regents last week chastised her for “poor judgment” that set in motion an “unacceptable” course of conduct. Nevertheless, the board declared it “fully supports her continuing leadership.”
She should have been shown the door.
Napolitano heads the 10-campus university system and her office serves as the administrative center. Last year, the state auditor sent surveys to each campus trying to ascertain how well the office was performing. The answers were to be kept confidential.
But Napolitano directed campus chancellors to first submit the responses to her office for review. A independent investigation, commissioned by the regents and headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, reveals the extent of the meddling.
In a conversation with us Monday, Napolitano continued to insist that she was trying to help the campus chancellors. But, the Moreno investigation found, the chancellors never wanted help.
She claimed her lawyers had approved her office reviewing the answers. In fact, UC attorneys advised that, while pre-screening the survey responses was legal, it was a bad idea.
The Office of the President, the attorneys presciently warned, “should think carefully about creating an appearance that (it) is biasing the results of the survey, which likely would be a subject of criticism in the final audit report.”
When UC Santa Cruz sent its answers directly to the auditor, Napolitano called the chancellor of that campus. She was “furious,” the chancellor recalled, and proposed that he withdraw the survey answers, which he did.
The Moreno investigation found that officials at campuses self-censored answers, knowing that Napolitano’s office would review them. Even still, Napolitano’s staff sent back five campuses’ survey responses for changes.”
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