Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fear The Turtle

So what's a major university Back East got to do with the goings on in Hotel California?

Well, it seems that one of their visiting professors, who also was the lead counsel for the NLRB during the Clinton Administration, penned an "open letter" to the membership of Zombie UHW (strange, that letter hasn't made its way to NorCal KaiPerm yet, so maybe it's just running around SoCal and other areas where elections be happening), in which he suggests that "California health care workers could receive “less favorable” benefits if they left SEIU for another union."

One problem with that, though - this "professor" wrote that letter under the letterhead of the University of Maryland...

...while failing to disclose in that letter that he is also a paid stooge of Our Glorious Maximum Leader.

Even worse, he also apparently wrote this letter without the knowledge or consent of the Board of Governors of the University of Maryland, and in so doing breached longstanding university policy on such matters, according to an article on the E-zine Inside Higher Ed.

William Powers, executive dean of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, said Wednesday that Feinstein “violated university policy” with his actions.

“In writing and submitting the letter, Mr. Feinstein was not acting within his role as a university faculty member but in his personal capacity as an adviser to the union,” Powers wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. “It was thus a mistake for him to use university letterhead or in any other way to imply that the university was engaged in this matter or stood behind his opinions."

Powers went on to say that the university would be “firmly informing” Feinstein that he’d violated university policy, adding that Feinstein will need to tell recipients of the letter that he wasn’t acting as a faculty member when he rendered the opinion.

While Powers affirms that university policy was violated by use of the letterhead, he would not say whether Feinstein violated conflict of interest policies that govern consulting or other outside work.
Of course, "Professor" Feinstein sees nothing wrong at all with his actions, or the light into which it has cast the University for which he serves as a visiting fellow...

Reached by phone Wednesday, Feinstein said he was perplexed that his memo had caused such a stir. What’s wrong with a lawyer taking money for giving his advice, he asked?

“I was asked by SEIU, who I am a consultant to, for my legal opinion, on this question,” he said. “The fact that I am a consultant to SEIU and paid as such is a matter of public record.”

That’s true. Unions file annual reports with the U.S. Department of Labor that require disclosure of compensation, and Feinstein’s payments are listed in 2007 and 2008 reports. There has been much discussion of late, however, about whether disclosures of potential conflicts in public documents are sufficient, or if instead professors have an obligation to take additional steps -- say an overt mention of conflicts in their writings and publications -- to ensure transparency.

“This isn’t an instance of a researcher saying this is a good drug or this is a good company," Feinstein said. "It’s more of a technical thing that’s going on here, saying what is the law.”

As for the matter of using university letterhead, Feinstein didn’t make much of that either.

“Obviously I’m not speaking on behalf of the University of Maryland,” he said. “Anyone who suggests that’s implied [by the letterhead] of course is incorrect. That’s a stretch.”

The reader is referred once again to the image of the letter above as to whether or not the backing of the University of Maryland is either explicit or implicit in his letter.

Check also the opinions on this matter rendered by both Tasty and Keyser's Red Revolt.


  1. Q: What's the difference between a University of Maryland Professor and a prostitute?

    A: I don't know, but if you give Fred Feinstein some money he'll let you know.

  2. It seems pretty clear to me that this memo was meant to indicate the feelings of the Governor of upper Southern WhoCaresIstan. How anybody could misinterpret this for U of Maryland is beyond me!


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