Quinn Pushes for Raise for His ECC Staff
By Tony Farina
Last year’s scathing state audit report that, among other things, found that Erie Community College’s Board of Directors was being too passive and not doing its oversight job of protecting public dollars, apparently has disappeared into the rear view mirror.
In what one veteran observer called “simply unbelievable,” outgoing ECC President Jack Quinn, who was criticzed in the state audit for handing out raises and bonuses to his executive staff without board approval, presented board members Tuesday morning with a request for a 2 percent raise for his 22-member management/confidential staff, some of which might be retroactive, even though the college is facing serious financial challenges as a result, in part, of declining enrollment not to mention the lax financial controls cited in the state report.
New Board Chairman Dennis Murphy confirmed the pay raise request by Quinn was presented to the board at Tuesday’s meeting, and it has been referred for a second vetting by the Talent Management Committee.
Murphy said the pay hike request was a followup to a proposal from last November by then Board Chairman Steve Boyd in order to keep the executive staff in step with settlements made with college administrators as part of the labor agreements that were reached last year.
Now it should be noted that Quinn has doubled the size of his executive staff since he took over as president of ECC in 2008 even though enrollment has declined, and that his decisions over the years to hand out bonuses and raises to his senior advisers without board approval were strongly criticized by state auditors who spent 20 months going over the books at ECC. Quinn announced over the summer that he was retiring in June.
The college, which has been forced to tap reserve funds and increase tuition to balance its budget, is already stacked with well-paid senior staff including Michael Pietkiewicz at approximately $140,000.
Pietkiewicz, a former aide to Quinn when he served in the House of Representatives, was hired by Quinn in 2014 for the newly created job of senior vice pesident for operations after his executive job at UB was phased out. He would be among the senior Quinn staff that would get the pay boost in the latest proposal under consideration. Insiders have long claimed that Pietkiewicz lacked the academic credentials for the high-ranking position he now holds.
Murphy said after the Talent Managment Committee’s second review of the pay raise proposal, it will be sent back to the board next month where, if past practice is the case, it will likely be approved
Quinn’s ability to control the board has never been at issue and even now, as his time is coming to an end, it appears he still has the ability to get the board to go along with his wishes even if it takes a little longer than in the pre-audit days. Although now that it is a public matter, the board may have to think twice about rubber-stamping the latest bump to the senior staff given the college’s critical and continuing financial problems.