At last! Major California newspaper calls for crooked Janet Napolitano to be fired

By deciding to tolerate a corrupt president, Janet Napolitano, the Regents of the University of California have failed in their duty to the citizens of California, who own the university and subsidize that institution with $3 billion a year of their hard-earned taxes.  There is no doubt that Napolitano is corrupt: the behavior that she engaged in, once it was uncovered, has been made a crime.  But because ex post facto laws cannot be applied to behavior that predated them, she is escaping prosecution.

A criminal who has gone free on a technicality is not suitable for high public office. I seem to be one of the few public voices that cares about the ongoing destruction of the integrity of one of the world’s premier institutions of higher learning. For those who have not been following the story, I described Napolitano’s corruption of the system designed to evaluate her performance here, her perfunctory, inadequate apology here, and the fall-guys (her two top staffers) here.

The national media largely have ignored the story, and the California media have given it scant attention. But at least one brave voice shares my outrage. Daniel Borenstein, editorial page editor, writing in the San Jose Mercury-News, has called for Napolitano to be fired.  (Update: The Santa Cruz Sentinel also joins the honor roll.  However, the Los Angeles Times and SF Chronicle remain silent.)  He also provides a story narrative to understand the corruption that helps those less inclined than me to consider the broad abstractions of organizational control mechanisms.

George Blumenthal, chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, was driving to work a year ago when he received a call from Janet Napolitano, president of the 10-campus university system.

She was “furious,” Blumenthal later recalled.

The state auditor was surveying the campuses to see if officials were satisfied with services provided by Napolitano’s office. Following survey instructions, UCSC officials had sent their answers directly back to the auditor.

But Napolitano, who had previously described the survey as a “witch hunt,” had insisted that her office first screen each campus’s answers. UCSC had failed to comply.

Napolitano told Blumenthal that the submission “is going to be very damaging to the university.” When he asked her what she wanted him to do about it, Napolitano responded, “Well, withdraw it, you can withdraw it.”

So that’s what he did.

This is the functional equivalent of cooking the books and deceiving the board of directors. Not just a firing offense, but a criminal offense in the corporate world. Corporate presidents have gone to prison for this.

Now that the Regents have failed in their duty to protect the university, I fear that it will suffer the inevitable consequences, harming the institution gravely. How can the federal government live up to its responsibilities to protect Americans if it continues to entrust our most important nuclear weapons management functions to an institution that tolerates corruption in its leader? Ever since its inception, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has been managed by the University of California. Now that this multi-billion dollar contract is up for renewal, two Texas University systems – perhaps sensing the opportunity the California corruption has created --  are moving toward offering competing bids.

Loss of this contract would be a huge blow to UC, and almost certainly would see the university’s global prestige suffer. Such a rebuke, however, is justified.

I think there may be one final opportunity to rescue the University of California from its ethical shame. The Department of Energy must announce that the integrity of the management of bidders will be a major factor in evaluating the bids it will receive for management of LANL.

If the Regents ignore the warning and do not demand Napolitano’s ouster, then they will go down in history as infamous enablers of the fall of a once-great university.

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