Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are We Allowed To Say Something About The Professors...

.. who are being portrayed as Pigs at the Trough? It's just all a hot mess:

UC Regents sue UCLA radiology professor Robert Lufkin for engaging in non-UC work

By Sean Greene, Nicholas Greitzer

April 20, 2010 at 1:25 a.m.

A group of UCLA staff members entered a medical school professor’s office late at night in January 2008 to gather electronic evidence of alleged prohibited outside activities involving Dr. Robert Lufkin.

In their lawsuit, the Regents claim Lufkin owes the University for the millions of dollars that he earned while acting as a director, shareholder and consultant at outside medical and technological firms U.S. Radiology On-Call, Prohealth Advanced Imaging and Mediasmith.

For years, Lufkin had allegedly been working with these companies while failing to report his involvement and income in accordance with UC policy.

Lufkin, a UCLA radiology professor currently on voluntary unpaid leave, claims the searches violated his Fourth and 14th Amendment rights, which protect against undue searches and seizures and guarantee due process of law.

Lufkin’s complaint comes in the form of a federal suit against the UC Board of Regents as they simultaneously pursue him for damages at the state level.

The UC Health Sciences Compensation Plan allows medical school faculty to engage in compensated outside business activities following disclosure to and approval from the University, according to the Regents.

Under the income and commitment thresholds that the University places on the outside activities, the compensation plan members then owe the University of California the income earned. All medical school faculty are required to participate in the plan.

The policy is designed to prevent conflicts of interest in its faculty, said Janet Lockwood, associate director of academic personnel for the UC Office of the President.

“The policy really tries to emphasize that physician educators who have faculty appointments with the University of California owe to the (University) any revenue from their clinical practices,” she said. “In other words, the physician is practicing at the approval of the University of California. As an employee, they can’t moonlight.”

The University trains the physician, provides a practice venue and pays for all overhead and malpractice insurance, Lockwood said. In exchange, the University requires that the physician not practice for personal gain or work in the same type of job in which the University employs the physician. Some aspects of the plan are up for negotiation with the department chair, Lockwood said.

According to the Regents’ complaint submitted to the court, Lufkin had been using University resources to build a “directly competing business.”

“(Lufkin had been) siphoning away patients to the detriment of the University and generally building his own business when he owed a duty to his employer of undivided loyalty to advance his employer’s interests,” according to the Regents’ complaint.

Under UCLA policy, medical school faculty may only provide occasional service to outside organizations for 21 days per fiscal year of which they can keep the income, said Albert Glover, director of academic affairs for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

Lufkin was allegedly withholding income from his outside activities, which represents a conflict of interest under UC policy.

Glover said the policy is really a matter of full disclosure. Full-time faculty may work in executive or managerial positions only with prior approval from the department.

“The faculty member obviously owes his first allegiance to the University ... and would be able to fulfill his obligations to the University,” Glover said.

The Regents initiated an investigation on Lufkin’s outside activities amid mounting suspicion of outside professional activity.

According to the Regents’ attorneys, UCLA’s actions in searching Lufkin’s office were rare, but under a UCLA e-mail policy such searches are permitted when there exists compelling circumstance or reason to believe that state or University law has been broken.

As part of the investigation into Lufkin’s outside activities, the 2008 search, authorized by a university warrant signed by Thomas Rice, vice chancellor of academic personnel, obtained 75 gigabytes of data containing U.S. Radiology On-Call trade secrets, as well as Lufkin’s own personal and privileged patient medical records, according to court documents.

Lufkin’s suit, however, claims the hard drive evidence was obtained illegally. The case seeks to place a permanent injunction on the use of the data by the Regents, as well as its return with damages paid.

According to Lufkin’s attorney, Lufkin has since repaid the thousands of dollars owed to the UC from his outside clinical work.

“The federal lawsuit details the undisputed fact that a group of UCLA employees quietly broke into a faculty member’s office at night to steal all of his electronic data, and that they did it several times over the course of several years,” said Eric Rose, a spokesman for Lufkin’s attorneys. “This was all done in violation of the faculty’s right to privacy and in violation of the University’s stated policies.”

Since the personal hard drive was connected to Lufkin’s university computer at the time of the search, it was valid under the approved university search warrant, said Dale Tate, UCLA Health System spokeswoman.

Even UCLA’s privacy policies cannot be barriers in criminal investigations involving searches of faculty offices, especially if there exists a warrant, said UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, an expert in information privacy and cyberspace matters. As long as there exists reasonable suspicion, then a search is justified, he said.



Federal Civil Rights Suit Brought Against UCLA, UC Regents For Copying Prof's Hard Drive
By Dennis Romero, Monday, Apr. 12 2010

A tenured professor in the Department of Radiological Sciences at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine filed a federal lawsuit last week against the school and the UC Board of Regents arguing that his civil rights were violated when university officials entered his office and copied a personal hard drive in 2008, according to documents provided to LA Weekly.

Robert Burnham Lufkin and others affected by the suit -- people with a stake in information on the drive -- are plaintiffs in the case that alleges UCLA violated their privacy. The core of the suit involves the professor's work for private firm US Radiology On-Call (USROC): When the school searched his office it was to provide fodder for its own, 2009 suit that Lufkin was performing outside work for USROC against UC policy. (USROC also filed a cross-complaint against UCLA and the Regents).

The Regents filed suit against the professor alleging just that -- that he performed work, sometimes on UCLA time, for the company. The university's suit states that Lufkin violated UC policy that requires a professor like him to share any proceeds from outside endeavors that benefit from his UCLA research.

However, Lufkin's civil-rights suit -- while arguing the above is not necessarily the case -- also alleges more nefarious motives on the part of the school. It states that Dieter Enzmann, Chair of the Department of Radiological Sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine, was the sole member of the faculty there that stood in his way for a promotion in 2004 and since then has essentially had it out for Lufkin.

Additionally, the suit alleges, the department head wanted to get his hands on information about USROC for his own personal enrichment. (Lufkin had actually tried to fuse a formal relationship between UCLA and the company, one that was apparently turned down by UCLA).

The move to seize Lufkin's hard drive info was "driven partly by personal motivations of Dr. Enzmann. Dr. Enzmann desired to glean information about teleradiology [the technology being pioneered at USROC] by surreptitiously monitoring USROC, including for the purposes of advancing his own personal financial interest and the interests of third party technology providers with whom he has close affiliations," Lufkin's suit states.

Information on the prof's 75-gig hard drive included proprietary USROC data such as lists of customers, prospective customers, and vendors; confidential business plans, contracts, and service protocols. But the drive also contained documents covered by attorney-client privilege, medical histories protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, and the private documents of third parties, including tax returns.

The suit does not disclose how much money Lufkin and his fellow plaintiffs seek, but it does mention that there will be an amount to be determined at a later time.

SOURCE: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/city-news/ucla-civil-rights-suit/

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

UC's Legal Bills Aren't Huge Enough

UC does indeed have huge legal bills as noted by Changing Universities


SB 650

In July 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled (Miklosy v. the Regents of the University of California (S139133, July 31, 2008) that UC employees who are retaliated against because they report wrongdoing cannot sue for damages under the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act, so long as the University itself reviews the complaints in a timely fashion. The ruling uncovered an oversight made by the Legislature when the Act was amended in 2001, which provided legal standing for all other state employees to seek damages.

“This is the classic case of the fox guarding the hen house,” said Yee. “UC and CSU executives should not be judge and jury on whether or not they are liable for monetary claims. This was not the intent of California’s whistleblower law.”

In the Miklosy decision, three of the seven judges urged the Legislature to consider changes to the law, as the current statute undermines the purpose of the Act.

“The court’s reading of the Act, making the University the judge of its own civil liability and leaving its employees vulnerable to retaliation for reporting abuses, thwarts the demonstrated legislative intent to protect those employees and thereby encourage candid reporting,” wrote Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, joined by Chief Justice Ronald George and Justice Carlos Moreno. “If the same government organization that has tried to silence the reporting employee also sits in final judgment of the employee’s retaliation claim, the law’s protection against retaliation is illusory.”

The Miklosy decision deals with the plight of two former scientists at UC’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who repeatedly told their supervisors about equipment problems and poorly trained operators of a project designed to determine the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. One of the scientists, Leo Miklosy, was fired in February 2003 and the other, Luciana Messina, resigned a few days later after overhearing a supervisor say she would also be fired.

“SB 650 will resolve the ambiguity in statute referenced by the Supreme Court and will ensure that all UC and CSU employees are given the same real – and not illusory – whistleblower protections as other state employees,” said Francke. “Fraud, waste and corruption in government cannot succeed if public employees are well-protected against punishment for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.”

“SB 650 would protect UC and CSU employees, who continue to face reprisal for reporting bad behavior and, without protection, will likely no longer be willing to provide journalists, the Legislature and the public with essential information about the operations of these high profile institutions in an era where available financial resources are increasingly scarce,” said Ewert.

SB 330

The UC and CSU have often evaded the public records act by shifting some responsibilities to foundations and other auxiliary organizations operating on campuses. Several recent examples demonstrate the need for increased public oversight and accountability provided by SB 330:

• At Sonoma State, a $1.25 million loan issued to a former foundation board member two days after he resigned. He is now defaulting on that loan, which leaves less money in the foundation’s endowment for scholarships and other more important causes.

• At Fresno State, a no-bid managing contract was given to a foundation member for a theatre complex in which he held a financial interest. In addition, the Fresno Bee newspaper was denied information in 2001, specifically concerning the identity of individuals and companies that received luxury suites at the Save Mart Center arena. The denial resulted in CSU v. Superior Court (McClatchy Company), in which the Court opined that although it recognized university auxiliaries ought to be covered by the CPRA and that its ruling was counter to the obvious legislative intent of the CPRA, the rewriting of the statute was a legislative responsibility.

• At San Francisco City College, a campus executive has been indicted for using money from the San Francisco City College Foundation for personal and political purposes. At San Jose/Evergreen Community College, the Chancellor was found to have engaged in lavish travel and other examples of financial impropriety that prompted her resignation. Since local community college campus auxiliaries are already subject to the CPRA, these instances of waste and abuse have lead to the parties being held to account.

• Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez recently acknowledged his campus is being investigated by the Attorney General in relation to inappropriate expenditures of campus auxiliary money, including $200,000 to remodel President Gonzalez’ kitchen in 2007. Additionally at Sacramento State, $6.3 million of public funds was transferred to University Enterprises Inc., a campus auxiliary, to backfill losses from a property acquisition.

• Campus leadership at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo appears to be under the influence of a well-heeled donor. In October, Cal Poly eliminated a guest lecture at the request of executives from the Harris Ranch Beef Company, who threatened to withhold $500,000 in support for a new campus meat-processing center. Emails recently obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune also found that Harris Ranch may have also forced the resignation of a faculty member who taught a course on sustainable farming. Harris officials are now requesting a meeting with Cal Poly administrators to determine whether or not they will continue with their donation.

According to the CSU Chancellor’s Office, 20 percent of its $6.7 billion budget, or $1.34 billion, is held in their 87 auxiliaries and foundations, and out of public view.

“SB 330 would remove the cloak of secrecy that prevents the public from understanding whether significant amounts of educational funding for public colleges and universities is being spent for the benefit of all Californians or just a privileged few,” said Jim Ewert, Legal Counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

“In just the last month alone, the scandals involving these foundations have expanded significantly to reveal that money has been used inappropriately for personal expenses, questionable loans, no-bid contracts, and executive perks for college administrators,” said Taiz.

“If government agencies can spin off front groups to handle their income with no transparency, those who provide that funding will never know quite where their money goes,” said Terry Francke, General Counsel for Californians Aware.

Both bills will now be considered by the State Assembly.

source: http://dist08.casen.govoffice.com/

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cap Special Executive Pension Payouts at UC

Reasons Why UC Faculty Should Not Buy into the Pension Scare
"Did you know that if Yudof stays for at least 4 years, he is guaranteed a yearly pension of over $250,000. Capping pension payouts at some level, like $125,000, as many other plans do, would save a ton of money." From Bob Samuels, Reasons Why UC Faculty Should Not Buy into the Pension Scare

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grad Students as Higher Ed Senior Administration-Stanford report: Shortfall for California's pension systems as much as a half a trillion dollars

Thankful for Grad Students taking a stab at it, wondering what the masters of the universe at UCOP have to say?...:

Going For Broke: Reforming California’s Public
Employee Pension Systems
By Howard Bornstein, Stan Markuze, Cameron Percy, Lisha Wang, and Moritz Zander.
Faculty Advisor: Joe Nation

Stanford report: Shortfall for California's pension systems as much as a half a trillion dollars

By Denis C. Theriault

According to a new report by a group of Stanford University graduate students, the shortfall facing California's public pension systems could reach more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade and a half.

A summary of the report, released Monday, also said the current recession has cost the three systems — for the state's public employees, schoolteachers and University of California workers — $109.7 billion in lost investment value. The report says the systems' basic growth assumptions are too rosy.

The report was prepared for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has made pension reform a top issue his last year in office. Because pension benefits are guaranteed, the state's general fund, facing a $19 billion deficit through next summer, must make up any shortfalls.

"This study reinforces the immediate need to address our staggering pension debt," the governor said in a statement. "The consequences are clear: increasingly large portions of state funding for programs Californians hold dear such as schools, parks and health care will be diverted to pay for this debt."

The report's proposed changes echo the governor's, many of which are politically difficult: reducing benefits for new employees, raising annual contributions to ward off shortfalls and shifting workers to a partial 401k system. High pension costs also are a growing concern for California's cities and counties, as well as for other states.

To read


Posted: 04/05/2010 06:57:00 PM PDT
Updated: 04/05/2010 06:57:02 PM PDT