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SUNY Shenanigans 
UAlbany fails to enforce SUNY policy against Chartock for full-time 'moonlighting'
..............Alan S. Chartock---Executive Director and Chair, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network............
Is the professor an embarrassment to UUP?
Also, see related letter:  'P.S. Isn't it wonderful .... '
by G. M. Heller
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Alan Seth Chartock has reason to be smiling.  He takes home more money annually than the Governor.  And the bulk of it comes from public coffers, from you the taxpayer.  But is it legal? 

Mr. Chartock is a full professor with tenure at SUNY's UAlbany and New Paltz campuses while simultaneously working as a full-time employee at WAMC, Inc., a ten-station National Public Radio affiliate.

For his teaching efforts, Mr. Chartock receives from SUNY a generous full-time salary package which includes benefits.  SUNY's funding for Mr. Chartock's salary is paid him from monies ultimately obtained from taxpayers of the State of New York and from tuition fees paid either by students or by their families.

Since 1981, Mr. Chartock has been 'moonlighting'  full-time at radio station WAMC, Inc. while simultaneously working for SUNY.  This extracurricular work is done in apparent violation of a SUNY policy which strictly forbids full-time moonlighting by SUNY faculty. 

From WAMC, Inc. Mr. Chartock also receives compensation.  His WAMC, Inc. salary alone nets Mr. Chartock more than $100,000 per year.  That salary includes a benefits and retirement package wholly separate and distinct from his SUNY salary-benefits-retirement package. 

UAlbany's provost and vice president for academic affairs, Carlos Santiago, states that: ".....campuses have the discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether, in fact, the outside employment actually interferes with an employee's professional obligation.''

Mr. Santiago apparently has not done his college homework. His view seems squarely at odds with SUNY's official written policy towards full-time moonlighting which is the same now as it was back in 1986.

'Burke Memorandum' still SUNY policy

Around the corridors at SUNY-Central, that anti-moonlighting policy has come to be known as "The Burke Memorandum," named for the provost who first officially clarified the state university system's rules about "extra-service."  Mr. Burke did so in a 'Memorandum to Presidents' dated December 23, 1986 and sent from SUNY-Central to the presidents of SUNY's State-operated campuses, with copies sent to  SUNY's business officers and personnel directors, as well as to the presidents of the community colleges, and deans of the statutory colleges throughout the state. 

The Burke Memorandum's key section dealing with moonlighting appears unequivocal in its meaning and intent:
"No full-time employee of the State University may assume another full-time position or obligation either within or without the University while receiving compensation from the University." -- Joseph C. Burke, Provost, SUNY-Central, December 23, 1986.

According to SUNY-Central, nothing has changed.  Mr. Burke's policy prohibiting full-time moonlighting remains in effect.  In the words of one top SUNY official, "'The Burke Memorandum' is still SUNY policy."

(To read The Burke Memorandum, Click Here
This may take a few seconds.)
SUNY's professor Chartock has been taking home a full-time paycheck from WAMC, Inc. since almost the beginning of his employ at that organization in 1981.  He is one of WAMC, Inc.'s four original corporators.  That equals close to 21 years of taking paychecks home from two separate full-time jobs in clear violation of SUNY policy.

It is also an apparent violation of the State University Professional Services Negotiating Unit Agreement, the collective bargaining contract between SUNY and United University Professions, the union representing faculty -- a union of which Mr. Chartock is a member. 

Now, it is not exactly a secret within a 100-mile radius of downtown Albany that Mr. Chartock works at radio station WAMC-90.3FM.  His used-car salesman's delivery is unmistakable and is heard throughout the day on any of various FM frequencies in WAMC's upstate New York market.  His labors for the radio station thus occur under the collective noses of senior officials at SUNY-Central,  UUP, and at UAlbany and SUNY New Paltz, the campuses at which Mr. Chartock teaches. 

Indeed, many of SUNY's most senior officials have been interviewed numerous times by Mr. Chartock in radio programs broadcast statewide over the station and its radio affiliates.  So it is not as if SUNY's bosses or UUP's officials can plead ignorance as to what professor Chartock has been up to these past two decades.

It is a fact that Mr. Chartock's SUNY paycheck and his WAMC, Inc. paycheck come inevitably from public coffers.  His SUNY check comes via a state university system supported by state andfederal taxpayers. 

The professor's WAMC pay comes via a tax-exempt 501c3, so-called 'charitable,' organization exempt from federal and state income taxes, recipient of federal and state grant monies, and of tax-deductible contributions from corporate underwriters and the general public. 

Connections

Mr. Chartock is the first to let anyone know that he is considered politically-connected in New York State.  It's all the professor can do when on-air not to drop the name of some schmuck with whom he's just shared an elevator ride and whom he now considers his 'good' friend. 

His seemingly special affinity for those connected with the state's Democratic Party political machine is not lost on his radio audience;  Not to mention almost daily on-air references ad nauseam to his Me and Mario program co-host, New York's ex-Governor Mario M. Cuomo, the nationally known politician and self-styled Liberal (that's with a capital L -- not that there's anything wrong with that) Democrat. 

Did we mention?  He knows Cuomo.

Biltmore Eleganza Silk Beaver FedoraMr. Cuomo is the 'almost-ran man,'  the guy who, when the chips were down during Campaign 1992, surprised everyone and -- how does one say this delicately -- showed that he 'did not have what it takes'  to throw his fedora into the Presidential ring at a time when a then relative unknown from Arkansas showed that indeed, he did.  (In '91 and '92, then Governor of the State of New York Cuomo, the keynote speaker at 1984's Democratic National Convention, was known to a lot more folks nationwide than then Gov. William Jefferson Clinton.)

There is also little question as to where on the spectrum Mr. Chartock's political sympathies lay having cut his teeth under the tutelage of some of the top leaders in that already-mentioned state Dem machine.  It is these earlier associations with political power in the corridors of the State Capitol which are rumored to have helped the professor's SUNY career immensely when the then relatively new associate magically attained valuable tenure as the youngest full professor in SUNY's history. 

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that professor Chartock has for years seemed to be able to avoid official scrutiny of his extra-curricular activities and non-SUNY incomes.

Officials at SUNY and UUP look the other way

Nonetheless, questions keep cropping up which deserve answers:

Exactly why do so many senior officials at SUNY and at United University Professions look the other way concerning Mr. Chartock's obvious and blatant violations of the university system's anti-moonlighting policy?

Why do officials allow him the leeway of having a second full-time job with a second full-time salary package when SUNY personnel and UUP's rank-and-file are not allowed the same valuable opportunity and benefit? 

Why do SUNY-Central and UAlbany officials seem to go out of their way to protect this professor, especially whenever this issue of illegal moonlighting comes up?

Questions like these are especially significant when one realizes the incredible generosity shown by New York State in the compensation package negotiated by UUP and offered to tenured faculty in the SUNY system.  Salaries and benefits are especially generous to those like Mr. Chartock with more than two decades of seniority. 

(To read  the State University Professional Services
Negotiating Unit Agreement,  Click Here!)
'Burke's Law'

It is not as if SUNY officials or state authorities do not have the tools with which to go after Mr. Chartock if they had the political weal.  In fact, New York State Public Officers' Law, Section 74 is one law specifically cited by Mr. Burke in his Memorandum. It is the ethical standards of that law which are to apply to all SUNY professional staff engaged in 'extra service activities'

Mr. Burke's Memorandum states: "Additionally, all extra service activities must conform to the ethical standards mandated by Section 74 of the Public Officers' Law."

(To read The Burke Memorandum, Click Here!
 This may take a few seconds.)
Applying the standards found in section 74, the code of ethics, to the university system's professional staff was an important legal step for Mr. Burke to take.  His specific application of that section of the Public Officers' Law to SUNY professional staff is significant because of the actual way section 74 was worded by the legislature. SUNY employees do not appear to be amongst those originally included in the legal definitions section of the law. 
(To read NYS Public Officers' Law, 
Section 74,  Click Here!)
Mr. Burke's policy decision to apply those ethical standards established in section 74 to SUNY professional staff corrects that glaring omission, at least as it applies to staff engaged in extra service activities.  Mr. Burke, in his position as provost of the university, had the legal authority, jurisdiction and power to make such a determination and to issue a policy to address it.  By so doing, he thus made section 74's ethical standards legally binding as a policy upon university professional staff. 

In the matter of SUNY professor Chartock, his extra service activities do appear to violate the standards mandated by section 74's code of ethics.  Two of the law's standards read as follows:
                       NYS Public Officers' Law,  Section 74:
                    ¶ 3.  Standards.
                       > d.  No officer or employee of a state agency.....should use or attempt 
                       to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions 
                       for himself or others.
                       > h.  An officer or employee of a state agency.....should endeavor to pursue
                       a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is 
                       likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust. 

(Editor's Note:  Readers should determine on their own whether professor Chartock's 'moonlighting' activities off-campus violate any of the other ethical standards prescribed in the Public Officers' Law.  Please refer directly to Section 74:  Click Here!)

Chartock's pay surpasses Governor Pataki

With two separate full-time paychecks, one from SUNY, the other from WAMC, Inc., and with both coming from publicly supported, tax-exempt entities, the result is that SUNY professor  Chartock receives greater compensation from New York's public sources than does Governor George E. Pataki.

This is something to ponder, especially at a time when state taxpayers are being asked to tighten their belts and to accept fewer governmental services, and even more especially when students at SUNY are being asked to ante-up some of the highest state university tuition fees in the nation.

Can one think of any other New York State public employee that enjoys as much privilege and largess from state government and public coffers as professor Chartock? 
(Editor's Note:  If readers know of any, we'd sure like to know, too -- please e-mail the editor.)

More questions raised

All this begs even more questions:

Has Mr. Chartock's failure to comply with SUNY's anti-moonlighting policy violated his contract with SUNY and/or any aspect of New York State law?

Has the professor misused his political connections, position, authority, and protected job status as a tenured university employee to avoid compliance with SUNY's anti-moonlighting policy and in order to pursue and obtain personal gain?

Has the professor obtained SUNY compensation and benefits for two decades under false pretenses?

If found to have violated SUNY policy, what percentage of compensation paid out over the years is the State/SUNY entitled to recover for two decades of illegal 'double-dipping'

If the professor were indicted and convicted for criminal misconduct, or if he were sued in civil court by SUNY, what fines, penalties, or civil damages should be assessed as a message to other white collar crooks in state government that such behavior cannot be tolerated?

What other lapses within SUNY might investigators find if they had the gumption to turn over other rocks at that august body?

And finally, do state law enforcement officials have the political weal to pursue white-collar criminals who prey on state government, the bulk of whom, unlike Mr. Chartock, do not have the political connections to stave off inquiries, and do not advertise on radio their disdain for the rules? 

............still developing

Also, see related letter:  'P.S. Isn't it wonderful .... '

©2002 WAMC Northeast Pirate Network®/


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©2002 WAMC Northeast Pirate Network®/