Saturday, August 21, 2010

PSC Bungles Rangel's Tangle

Sharad Karkhanis's Patriot Returns just published my article "PSC Bungles Rangel's Tangle."

The Professional Staff Congress (PSC), a union that purports to represent CUNY's faculty, has allowed City College's (CCNY's) public relations calamity involving the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service to spin out of control without voicing the slightest concern or faculty perspective. CCNY's ethical and public relations breaches are attracting national attention while the PSC pontificates about a litany of dogmatic pieties concerning the Afghan War, the Bush administration, the Iraqi War, the Tea Party and the Republicans' sub-prime lending policies. Likely, the PSC's flower child president, Barbara Bowen, and her New Caucus band of Merry Pranksters find potential ethics breaches at CCNY as too "off the bus" to warrant their time, which they see as best spent praising sociopaths like Hugo Chavez, Syed Hashmi and Sami Al-Arian.

In an August 10th article, Inside Higher Education writes that CCNY exercised questionable ethics with respect to Congressman Rangel's fundraising. Paulette Maehara of the Association of Fundraising Professionals says that "higher education fund-raisers are ethically bound to disclose conflicts of interest and they should also ensure anyone working on their behalf is similarly free of conflict." Not all experts agree. Moreover, the article points out that CUNY's fundraising policies do not prohibit obtaining gifts unethically. But it requires a fetishization of bureaucratic rules and an indifference to bad ethics to claim that a CUNY policy gave former CCNY president Gregory Williams and his staff latitude to entangle the university in Congressman Rangel's corruption. The New York Post began reporting on this story in 2007. It involves use of Congressional letterhead to raise millions of dollars from Verizon, AIG, New York Life and Nabors Industries, all of whom were asking for quid pro quo legislative favors from Mr. Rangel, possibly while CCNY's representatives were in the same room.

Ought not a faculty union provide a moral voice for the faculty it purports to represent? And if so, why is the PSC deafeningly silent about Democratic Congressman Charles B. Rangel's corrupt "monument to himself" at CCNY? Instead of honoring dishonorable politicians who serve in the PSC's partisan clubhouse, the Charles B. Rangel Center and its associated conference centers and libraries ought to be renamed as the Centers for the Study of Ethics in Public Service. As well, CCNY should refuse Mr. Rangel's papers. If Riker's Island has no room for them, perhaps Mr. Rangel can strong arm a donation for a new wing to its jailhouse.

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