COLUMN

Seems Higher Ed HQ Is Located On The Dark Side

I'm going to say something that may sound a little strange, but it explains some pressing mysteries. A state building — located at 39 Woodland St. in Hartford — is possessed by evil spirits and possibly even Satan himself.

The building houses many functions of the state's higher education system. Minions of Beelzebub seized it in 2006 or earlier. Since that time, decent people who take jobs there have transformed overnight into repulsive creatures in the service of a demon lord.

Last week, we learned of a raise that seemed to "award itself" to a high-ranking official and of a bizarre threat that spontaneously rose in the air and hovered over 12 community college presidents who have been offered "buyouts," which usually means we pay you a lot of money to go away and do nothing. Ordinarily, I would simply conclude that the Board of Regents of Higher Education, a brand new body, was just another bunch of stupid idiots; but I know better.

I got my first hint about what was happening in 2006 when David Carter was hired as chancellor of the state university system for $247,500. By 2009, even though the economy had crashed and misery had overspread the land, Carter's salary had grown to about $400,000. But the first hint came right away. Many of you won't believe me, but Carter actually ordered the state to buy him a mace for $6,300. It was not a mace with spikes, a mace that you would use to kill a medieval enemy. It looked more like a scepter. It was considered "academic regalia."

As further proof that this board was in the thrall of Satan, they later tried to give Carter an additional $82,500 as a retention bonus, so he would not take early retirement. It then came out that Carter didn't like the president of Southern Connecticut State University, who was making $280,000, so he hired another one and paid them both. So that one job cost $560,000.

A different board governed community colleges. In 2011, that board accepted the retirement of a different chancellor, Marc Herzog, who was never given a mace but who was given a contract to work 120 more days and get $80,000 ($667 a day) while also getting $14,000 a month for his retirement.

Those two boards don't exist anymore, because Gov. Dan Malloy concluded they were merely stupid, as opposed to possessed. He consolidated them into a single board. To head that board he hired a man named Robert A. Kennedy for $340,000 because a Ouija board spirit claiming to be Wilbur Cross told him to. Last week we learned that Kennedy had granted 21 raises, some of them enormous, to higher education officials without checking with his board. The most enormous one, $48,000, went to the second highest official there, Mike Meotti, who had been scraping by on $184,000. Kennedy said he did this "mistakenly." In the ancient Aramaic, the word "mistakenly" and the idiom "because I am enslaved by Lucifer" are identical.

Republican congressional candidate Andrew Roraback blamed Malloy's administration for the raises and was rebuked by Malloy aide Roy "The Hammer" Occhiogrosso, who said he had been rendered "speechless," which was a blatant lie. (Occhiogrosso has been speechless exactly four times in his life, and all of them involved the New York Jets.) Occhiogrosso accused Roraback of crazy talk, because, although Malloy hired Kennedy and appointed 13 of the 19 board members and invented the board in the first place, he has a strict policy of not knowing what they're doing.

This is probably true, but it never sounds very good.

You know what I am going to say now, right? You can get rid of the people you have now and hire new people who will seem very nice. You can dissolve this board and make another board. You can appoint a blue ribbon panel to watch over that board. And then you will close your eyes one day and open them again to find you are paying people crazy amounts of money to brandish maces and do all kinds of horrible things or to do nothing at all. Until you get an exorcist in there, nothing will change.

Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/. He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.

Featured Stories

CTnow is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on ctnow.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.