May 102009
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

Three watchdog media entities issued a statement to the CSU System Board of Governor’s Thursday, asking that the board to annul its decision to name Joe Blake as the sole finalist for CSU chancellor.

Requesting the BOG start a new search to review additional candidates, including Blake, Colorado Ethics Watch, Colorado Common Cause and New Era Colorado, hope to instill greater transparency in the board’s selection process — something all agreed was missing from the closed-door executive session in which Blake was selected on May 5.

“We all have a common interest and mission to pursue open honest government,” said Chantell Taylor, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. ” . This process was done in a rushed and closed-door way and we thought it was important for the board to try again in a more transparent process.”

Blake was selected as finalist for CSU chancellor in a closed-door session on May 5 after formerly submitting his application for the position on April 29.

The Colorado Independent, The Coloradoan and the Pueblo Chieftan, saying the board violated Colorado’s open-meetings laws through its selection, filed a lawsuit against the BOG on May 6.

The BOG said, “it stands behind its process and firmly believes it complied with the Colorado Open Meeting law with regard to its May 5, 2009 discussions and interview of Joe Blake,” in a statement posted on its Web site Thursday.

“There have been opinions expressed about the search process, but the facts are that the board took steps to ensure the process leading up to and through the five-month search was open and that as many voices from constituent groups had the opportunity to be heard.”

The first part of the statement “Pretty much address the overarching tenure about what the three entities have expressed,” said BOG spokesperson Michele McKinney.

“We thought it was important to remind the public of the process that did occur,” she said of the statement, which noted that open CSU stakeholder forums were held around the state to gather input on “desired attributes for a new chancellor.”

“It’s interesting, CSU’s BOG has issued a statement already,” Taylor said of Thursday’s BOG statement. “They’re digging in their heels and backing up their decision.”

There was evidence from the hour-long recording of the May 5 session, posted on the BOG’s Web site Wednesday, that the board recognizes the public did not think there was adequate participation and input from stakeholders before Blake was selected, said Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause Jenny Flanagan.

The three watchdog groups, who join forces for the first time in this effort, will issue another statement if the board does not heed their initial call, Taylor said.

As for the future Taylor said they plan to “keep pressure and talk with the Board of Governors to take our suggestion seriously and start their process anew.”

Additionally, Flanagan encouraged the public to attend the BOG’s May 26 meeting and provide input.

The BOG plans to “consider the appointment of Dr. Tony Frank as the president of CSU,” according to the BOG meeting agenda posted on the Web site, and discuss the hiring of a chancellor. Blake currently is the finalist for the position.

The board will also discuss the current lawsuit and court action filed by the three newspapers on May 6.

The meeting is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. at 410 17th St., Suite 2440 in Denver. The agenda can be found at the following site: http://csusystem.edu/pages/schedule.asp.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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