OPEN GOVERNMENT --The
Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported yesterday that the Sonoma
State University Academic Foundation used donated funds to provide
huge personal loans to cronies of foundation board members, some of
which may never be recovered.  That's a good example of why such foundations need to be transparent, says the office of a lawmaker who's got a bill on the issue.

The Assembly Higher Education
Committee is set to vote on a bill Tuesday to ensure greater
access to public records at such foundations and auxiliaries operating
at California State University and the University of California
campuses.

Specifically, SB 218, authored by Senator Leland Yee
(D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will allow for greater accountability by
updating the California Public Records Act (CPRA) to include auxiliary
organizations that receive public funds or perform government functions
on state campuses. 

“With 87 foundations and auxiliaries
operating on 23 CSU campuses, the SSU scandal may be just the tip of
the iceberg,” said Yee.  “It is imperative that we pass SB 218 to
ensure that these organizations comply with the state’s public records
act and are held accountable.”

“It creates a noxious brew when we
combine large sums of money with little or no public openness. And,
it’s an obvious invitation to corruption,” said Lillian Taiz, president
of the California Faculty Association, who is a history professor at
Cal State Los Angeles. 

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

“Taxpayers
and students deserve to know how their public universities are run,”
said Yee.  “SB 218 will ensure that our public higher education systems
operate in the light of day and are held accountable.”