Katehi Team’s Asking Why Berkeley Chancellor Is Being Treated Differently

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Chancellor Linda Katehi in February
Chancellor Linda Katehi in February

On Wednesday, the LA Times reported that UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, already on the hot seat due to sexual harassment scandals that led to the resignation of Provost Claude Steele in April, is under investigation for alleged misuse of public funds.

According to the Times report, the chancellor is alleged to have “failed to pay for use of the campus Recreational Sports Facility and its professional services, and that he used public funds to pay for travel with a recreational sports employee on non-university business.”

Writes Rachael Nava, the University of California’s chief operating officer, in an April letter, “These allegations, if substantiated, could constitute Improper Governmental Activities, in violation of the University of California Policy on Reporting and Investigating Allegations of Suspected Improper Governmental Activities.”

The Times notes that the chancellor “has also been accused of mishandling sexual abuse complaints. He and Claude Steele, his handpicked provost who resigned earlier this year, were sharply criticized for imposing weak sanctions on three high-powered faculty members who violated UC’s sexual harassment policy, although Steele says he was only involved in one case.”

However, the handling of the investigation by UC has some on the legal team for Linda Katehi wondering why the Berkeley chancellor is being treated differently from Chancellor Katehi.

After all, Chancellor Dirks remains on his job during the course of the investigation.  The investigation is proceeding through internal channels and the Office of the President is refusing to comment due to the whistleblower aspects of the case.

But the same is not true of Chancellor Linda Katehi.  She was placed on administrative leave back in April.  The accusations were laid out to her in a letter from President Janet Napolitano which was directly sent to media sources and disseminated.

The Office of the President has hired an outside attorney, a former federal prosecutor, Melinda Haag, to investigate the chancellor.

Unlike in the Chancellor Dirks matter, UCOP and their spokesperson have liberally commented to the media about the progress of the investigation and their complaints that Chancellor Katehi and her team have been less than fully cooperative in the matter.

Chancellor Dirks isn’t commenting on the matter until the investigation is concluded, but the Times talked to Mike Weinberger, who had served as director of the recreational facility until his retirement in February.

He told the Times that he had approved the training and did not believe it a violation of university policy.  Unlike the chancellor, trainer Devin Wicks “has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. “

Mr. Wicks is also involved in the other allegation of improper travel, which “involved a trip to India in January by Wicks and Dirks’ wife, Janaki Bakhle, an associate history professor at Berkeley. Dirks did not travel with Wicks and never has, a university source said.”  According to a source, “the trip was paid for by the Berkeley Alumni Assn., not public university dollars. Weinberger said he approved Wicks’ request to use his personal vacation days for the trip.”

These allegations follow perhaps the bigger problem for the Berkeley chancellor, his mishandling of sexual abuse complaints.  The Times article notes, “Faculty members were close to calling for a vote of no confidence earlier this year and may revive the effort in the fall.”

“Sadly, the extensive record of indecisiveness, unforced errors and poor decision-making by our top administrator on several critical fronts has seriously undermined [faculty] trust,” Mara Loveman, sociology department chair, said at an Academic Senate meeting in May, according to a transcript.

That actually contrasts to the large number of faculty at UC Davis, especially in the Academic Senate, who have backed Chancellor Katehi.

This is the second time we have seen the Chancellor Katehi matter handled differently from other UC investigations.  In late June, the Vanguard reported on the matter of UC Regent William de la Pena, a medical doctor who “tried to negotiate a deal between his eye clinics and UCLA, and engaged in discussions in which he had a financial interest. He denied wrongdoing but resigned as chair of the regents’ health committee.”

However, he was allowed to keep his seat on the Board of Regents, “despite a secret investigation that concluded he violated ethics rules by trying to strike a financially beneficial deal between his eye clinics and UCLA, part of the university system the regents oversee.”

When the Vanguard asked UC Spokesperson Dianne Klein about the April 27 letter regarding Katehi that was made public at the time, she stated that its release “did not violate personnel confidentiality policies.”

She also suggested this was a routine release, writing, “As a general matter, when media request University documents that could affect the privacy rights of individuals, California law requires us to balance the public’s interest in the disclosure of records relating to public business against an individual’s interest in non-disclosure.”

“One factor that influences this balance is the nature of an individual’s position. The higher the level of one’s position, the greater likelihood that the balance tips in favor of the public interest in disclosure,” she explained.

She added, “In light of the many weeks of media attention arising from Chancellor Katehi’s leadership, UCOP determined that, in this case, the balance favored disclosure when the letter was requested.”

However, the handling of a potentially criminal conflict of interest case involving UC Regent William De La Peña and an allegation of a potential conflict of interest suggests something altogether different.

In contrast to her response to our question about the Linda Katehi matter, when ProPublica asked why this report had been kept confidential, Ms. Klein wrote, “The outcomes of whistleblower investigations are not routinely announced publicly.”

“The investigation was carried out according to UC policy,” she wrote. “His resignation [from the committee] was consistent with what sanction the investigation recommended.”

The results of the matter involving Regent De La Peña were kept secret for over a year, only released after a report by ProPublica and then only in redacted form.  The letter from President Napolitano to Chancellor Katehi was released the same day to the Sacramento Bee without even the need for a formal Public Records Request.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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32 thoughts on “Katehi Team’s Asking Why Berkeley Chancellor Is Being Treated Differently”

      1. Marina Kalugin

        anyone who thinks that, Felicity, is not in the know…and her support has grown as even those who believed the lies at first had to concede that the lies were lies….once the evidence was “presented”….

  1. Jerry Waszczuk

    UC DAVIS CHANCELLOR LINDA KATEHI IN THE  MY COURT CASE AGAINST THE  UC REGENTS AND THEIR OFFICERS
    Excerpt from the  Notice of Objection to the  Respondents”  Application for Extension to File the  Respondent Brief filed on 07/06/2016 ( anti-SLAPP Motion appeal)
     Waszczuk believes that the Court of Appeal 3rd Appellate District Honorable Justices noticed in the media, especially the Sacramento Bee, that since March 2016, Greek-Born UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and her family were subjected to psychological terror and a witch hunt orchestrated by the UC Office of the President (UCOP). The witch hunt was led by UC President Janet Napolitano, who is a former U.S. Homeland Security chief. She also hired two of her friends, former U.S. prosecutors Melinda Haag and McGregor Scott, who are attorneys specializing in white collar criminal defense.
    Waszczuk would not have brought Chancellor Katehi into this objection if the UCOP action terrorizing Chancellor Katehi and her family wasn’t like a recreation of the terror Waszczuk experienced at the hands of UCOP from December 2006 to December 2012.
    Furthermore, two former U.S. prosecutors were hired by UCOP to prosecute Chancellor Katehi after Waszczuk submitted his complaint to federal law enforcement agencies and reported the crimes committed by UC Regents and members of the UC administration and mismanagement. It also happened after Waszczuk had a phone interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the end of April 2016.
    UC Davis Chancellor Katehi refused to fire Waszczuk in November 2011 before the infamous pepper spray attack against protesters on November 18, 2011. Just before the pepper spray attack, the confidential report on Waszczuk was sent to Chancellor Katehi as cause for termination by one the Respondents, Danesha Nichols, after Waszczuk reported a serious violation of the law by UC Davis Medical Center management in October 2011 to UC Davis police officers Cpt. Joyce Souza, Lt. John Pike, and Chief Annette Spicuzza. The police investigation of the reported violation included but was not limited to child pornography activities, the suicide of Waszczuk’s coworker, and massive machine oil discharges into the Sacramento River that could lead to the disclosure of UC Davis’s illegal power sales related to enormous multimillion dollar tax fraud.
    UC Davis Police did not get a chance to investigate anything because UC Davis Campus Counsel Steven Drown, UC General Counsel Charles Robinson, UC Davis Medical Center HR Executive Director Stephen Chilcott and UC Davis Lt. Matt Carmichael used a student protest on the UC Davis Campus to create an image of Lt. Pike using a pepper spray can in front of hundreds of video cameras to end the employment of UCDPD Chief Annette Spicuzza, Lt. John Pike, Cpt. Joyce Souza, and Chancellor Katehi. Chancellor Katehi survived the plot due to the intervention of the California Assembly Speaker John Perez, who later became a UC Regent in late 2014.
     
    The Porter/Scott law firm that represents the Respondents in the current case against Waszczuk represented UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi in the Federal Court lawsuit that was brought against her after the November 18, 2011 pepper spray attack. At this point Waszczuk does not know  whether Porter/Scott attorneys advised UC administration on how to pursue Waszczuk’s termination in 2011 and then again in 2012. The termination was finally carried out in December 2012 per the UC Regents and UC General Counsel Charles Robinson’s orders.

  2. Jerry Waszczuk

    Katehi Team’s Asking Why Berkeley Chancellor Being Treated Differently?

    Ketehi Team knows why UC Berkeley  Chancellor being treated differently and why two  tow former U. S prosecutors Melinda Haag and McGregor Scott  (white collar crime defense attorneys) were hired to  investigate Chancellor Katehi.    However , the question is good for the  legal reason .

  3. PhillipColeman

    Time-honored defense attorney tactic: When you have an inadequate defense to refute charges made against your client, you attack the accuser and the process. Demonize those by suggestion and intimation in the absence of evidence. Deflect attention from the accused and towards the accuser. Try to make the accuser the defendant and you can be the prosecution, the only difference being you no burden of proof.

    Every investigation of any type, criminal or administrative, is unique. Investigations may have some similarities in process, (usually mandated by law, labor contract, or organizational policy) but the investigative path is never the same. The circumstances are different, the players are different and the elements of the allegation being investigated have particulars not found in any other case.

    Where there is a commonality in case comparisons is shown here. Attorneys for the accused point to differences in one case verses a previous case.  Looking for inevitable disparities with every investigation compared to any other, select differences are pointed out, molded into a conspiracy, and then alleged to be efforts  to find the accused guilty as charged. Sweeping generalizations are made, but nothing is given in the way of substantive proof or evidence that could be verified by a neutral party. A conspiracy in intimated and crafted into a press release that makes fascinating reading. For that reason only, it’s published. And we read it, and neither the press nor we think to ask, “Why no supportive verifiable evidence?”

     

    1. Jerry Waszczuk

      PhillipColeman

      “Demonize those by suggestion and intimation in the absence of evidence”

      Perfectly stated. The UC General Counsel Charles Robinson’s  team is very  skilled to demonize the  accused employees.  I had a liberty to  face a few from his team. One of them , Cytnhia Vroom is a great out of blue  story teller .

    2. Paul Thober

      Well said. My initial reaction to this piece was “deflection”. What someone else did or how they were investigated, how information was disseminatsed about another investigation really has no bearing on the investigation of missteps both admitted to and not admitted to in the case at hand.

      Years ago I was being written up for rolling through a stop sign and indignantly pointed out to the officer that others were doing the same thing or worse. It was not about others or fairness it’s about what I did.

      1. DavidSmith

        “It was not about others or fairness it’s about what I did.” 

        You wouldn’t say so if the cop sentence you to jail for failing to make a full stop, while others just get a ticket.

        1. hpierce

          Cops can’t “sentence”… only reason I’ve heard of where someone was ‘arrested’ for not making a full stop, is when there was a DUI involved…

        2. hpierce

          Have never heard of a judge sentencing anyone to jail/prison time for not making a full stop, unless there is something else involved, like a DUI…

          That is the essence of my refutation of your argument.

        3. DavidSmith

          h

          I’m not sure you understand my original argument. Paul Thober was saying

          “It was not about others or fairness it’s about what I did.”

          meaning that it doesn’t matter how other Chancellors are treated, and that what matters is what Chancellor Katehi did, and implying that she was treated reasonably by the UCOP. 

          There is a logic gap that I pointed out by giving the follow example.

          You wouldn’t say so if the cop/judge sentence you to jail for failing to make a full stop, while others just get a ticket.

          In other words, in judging whether Chancellor Katehi received a reasonable treatment, we need to look at the severity of the issue and how it stacks up against the current policy/regulation/law. What Guzman called out was that Chancellor Katehi received unfair treatment which is indeed a great concern in this case and we are seeing here strong evidence that it’s indeed unfair. Paul and another poster down there, either intentionally or unintentionally, confused the two concepts.

        4. hpierce

          DavidSmith… acknowledge your distinction…

          The facts are, as I understand them, Katehi and her actions/lack thereof, are still under investigation… she is still drawing salary, benefits, retirement accrual, residence in the Chancellor’s ‘mansion’, etc.  I see no “punishment” to date, except perhaps to a bruised ego.  And, she’s not expected to do anything… nice work if you can find it…

          I’m content to let the process play out… exoneration, she will be owed a public apology, and full maintenance of status… but what has happened to date has happened… you only get to turn the clock back once a year… not sure what public flagellation does [one way or the other] to move the ball forward.

        5. Chamber Fan

          Hpierce:  What do you mean no punishment, she’s on administrative leave?  She’s being prevented from working.  That’s more than a bruised ego.

      2. Paul Thober

        Pug Ilist:

        “They are trying to show that the treatment received by Katehi is unusual – and they have a point.”

        That I was stopped, detained, issued a citation and had to pay a fine was unusual, also. Literally thousands of people, including me, roll through stop signs every day in Davis. I went for thirty years committing this traffic violation without being stopped. It’s unusual that anyone is stopped and ticketed.

        David Smith:

        “You wouldn’t say so if the cop sentence you to jail for failing to make a full stop, while others just get a ticket.”

        I was detained, received a ticket and had to pay a three figure fine while numerous others blythely went on their way.

    1. tj

      Katehi’s position sounds like kindergarten.  He cheated so I cheated too, and teacher likes him more than me.  Katehi appears much harder to deal with than the Berkeley chancellor.  Hence the difference in the way things have been handled.

      1. DavidSmith

         Katehi appears much harder to deal with than the Berkeley chancellor.  Hence the difference in the way things have been handled.

        Yes an incompetent leader can’t tolerate a more capable subordinate.

  4. Marina Kalugin

    the most very simple, very basic, and the true answer, is that the UCB Chancellor did not stand up to the Napo on various occasions…

    he was no threat to the Napo’s skewed sensibilities….

    as a more mediocre chancellor of the male species, and good ole boy network,  he had little to lose regardless of his many real transgressions…

    …the Napo was not as “threatened”  by his presence and so on.

    Chancellor Katehi was much more of a “threat’ as she, as a woman with superior intellect, and international renown, and reputation as a true leader and scientist……and also, as an outspoken woman, and who has been through much worse stuff over her decades than the likes of the Napo…

    would not cow tow to the Napo’s illegal demands….

    that is the simplicity of the answer to the title question…..all the rest is conjecture….and truly those who think it is something else, have not been paying attention…

     

     

     

    1. DavidSmith

      the most very simple, very basic, and the true answer, is that the UCB Chancellor did not stand up to the Napo on various occasions…
      he was no threat to the Napo’s skewed sensibilities….

      Very well said.

  5. JSnow

    Why? Because someone leaked that UCOP asked Chancellor Katehi to resign resulting to a knee jerk circulation of  a petition in support of Katehi. The avalanche of media coverage started there. Her own friends robbed her of a chance to resign gracefully or ask for a quiet investigation.

     

    1. Marina Kalugin

      and, JSnow’s truly banal and sophomorphic conjecture remains?

      “kneejerk circulation of a petition of support”?   “chance to resign gracefully”    what hogwash….

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